(Photo: Jereme Aubertin)
My name is Mischa Davis. I am the 2013 New Zealand Women’s National Surfing Champion, a title I won in my home of Piha this past summer. I was very lucky to be born into a surfing family and to grow up on Piha beach. I have spent my whole life in the ocean and now I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s my escape from my busy mind and hectic schedule at law school. We can all relate to that feeling of being in awe of nature when we visit places like Piha. For me, having Piha as my playground has taught me independence, given me purpose, and very importantly taught me to respect nature. I can’t imagine a life not wanting to protect it.
However our precious coastlines are now facing a very serious threat. New Zealand is witnessing the largest oil exploration programme ever undertaken here. Texan oil company Anadarko, the same company that was directly involved in the devastating Gulf of Mexico oil spill, has just announced plans to start deep sea drilling off the West Coast of the North Island this summer. Looking at the spill model data, if an accident were to occur at this drill location, the effects would directly hit my home of Piha. Once the spill begins, there simply is no way to contain it. The damage to our marine environment, coastlines, economy and reputation would be catastrophic.
There is much uncertainty concerning environmental risks of oil extraction and how to mitigate those risks. What is certain however is that New Zealand’s ocean environment contains immense value in supporting diverse ecosystems, sustainable fisheries, and priceless intrinsic value. Our coastlines are the home of many indigenous species including the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin. Furthermore, eighty per cent of all New Zealanders live on or near the coast. The ocean is without doubt a central part of our identity and well-being. Committing to deep sea oil drilling is putting all of this at stake.
Deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand’s waters is simply not worth the risk.
– Mischa Davis: New Zealand Surfing Champion, Law Student, Piha Local