Whangaparaoa, Wednesday 16 January 2013: Today as the new Rainbow Warrior anchored off Whangaparaoa Bay near East Cape, Greenpeace crew came ashore where they were warmly greeted by Te Whanau a Apanui. It is the first time both groups have met to celebrate the oil giant Petrobras abandoning their oil drilling plans in the Raukumara Basin.
“Initially we felt lonely in the face of this David and Goliath battle and we were heartened when Greenpeace said they would stand by our side. Taking on the third largest oil company in the world is not something to do lightly. But it just goes to show that united we can win. It has been our recipe for success”, said Adelaide Waititi, Chairperson of Te Runanga o te Whanau.
“What we have achieved together with Te Whanau a Apanui shows it’s absolutely possible to protect our coastlines and waters from our Government’s crazy plan to open them up to deep sea oil drilling”, said Greenpeace NZ Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid. “It’s an encouraging example to other communities who are under threat of deep sea oil drilling off their coasts. We do not need to do this to be a prosperous nation, we have choices. Having the new Rainbow Warrior here to celebrate this win is very fitting as she is an example of choosing to do our campaigning in a smarter, cleaner way.”
“Neither the Government nor Petrobras will ever admit that our united front of opposition was a factor in Petrobras’ departure, but we feel in our hearts that this was key“, she said.
A united front of protests were sparked after the Government signed an agreement for deep sea oil surveying in 2010 without consent from Te Whanau a Apanui who have mana moana over the waters of the Raukumara Basin. The tribe earns some of its livelihood from fishing and didn’t want their foodbasket polluted.
The landmark united front of protests lasted two years and included:
* a 42 day flotilla involving seven protest vessels that interrupted Petrobras’ oil survey ship
* the arrest of Te Whanau a Apanui fisherman Elvis Teddy after the oil ship was told by tribal leader Rikirangi Gage, ‘We won’t be moving. We’ll be doing some fishing’.
* anti-oil drilling messages in windows, on gates, shed,s letterboxes along 320 km of road between Opotiki and Gisborne.
* the confirmation that the stance was right when oil washed up on across the Bay of Plenty out past East Cape
In December the Government issued three new permits for deep sea oil exploration in the Pegasus Basin (off Wairarapa, Wellington and Kaikoura) and the Great South Basin (off Dunedin).
People celebrating the fight to keep oil drilling out of the Raukumara Basin spelt ‘OIL FREE AS NZ SHOULD BE’ on Oruaiti Beach with seaweed near where the movie ‘Boy’ was filmed.