Flotilla Returns to Oil Survey Zone After Protests Outside Annual National Party Conference

Press release - May 8, 2011
Wharekahika/Hick’s Bay, Sunday 8 May 2011: The flotilla opposing deep sea oil drilling with replenished supplies and crew quietly left Wharekahika this afternoon for the Raukūmara Basin. This followed a loud and festive protest of eighty people greeting John Key in Gisborne outside the annual National Party Conference last night.

“The message is getting through that opposition to deep sea oil drilling is not isolated to te Whānau ā Apanui and Ngāti Porou”, said Robert Rūha of te Whānau ā Apanui. “We are seeing support from all sorts of people young and old, Māori, Pākehā, in fact growing numbers of New Zealanders. This will continue,”

The flotilla represents a united front of San Pietro, Windborne and Tiama.

The now famous te Whanau a Apanui fishing boat San Pietro - on which skipper Elvis Teddy was arrested for fishing in front of the oil survey ship two weeks - has re-joined the flotilla. “That boat goes out to sea again from the heart of our people”, said Robert Ruha.

Greenpeace Executive Director Bunny McDiarmid has joined the flotilla as the skipper of Tiama. From sea she said, “The Prime Minister says we need deep sea oil drilling to build a strong economy and create jobs - but it doesn’t make sense. This is not regular oil drilling that we all know we will be doing for some time yet. This is frontier exploration, extremely risky because it is in waters too deep to
easily fix even a simple mistake and we are increasing the risk by now inviting companies with dubious operating histories”.

“We need to be investing in clean energy, this is where the smart economies are moving to, not deepening further our dependency on oil.”

This seventh week of flotilla opposition follows announcements of deep sea oil drilling projects off Taranaki, Canterbury and Kahurangi and Abel Tasman National Parks and the Prime Minister’s refusal to move on the issue in last Monday’s meeting with East Coast iwi leaders.

Maria Tomasio has departed after a spending a week with the flotilla. "The natural world has reached or passed its ability to accommodate man's competitive quest for endless economic expansion. If only this effort were being utilised towards achieving sustainable energy systems our grandchildren might actually have a chance", said Maria Tomasio skipper David Waters.