National | Māori

Taranaki iwi says end to offshore oil exploration not enough

The Kaiarataki of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui, Debbie Ngarewa-Packer says the government's plan to end offshore oil exploration doesn't go far enough.

The South Taranaki iwi is spearheading an appeal in Wellington's High Court to overturn a grant allowing Trans-Tasman Resources Ltd (TTRL) to mine ironsand off their coastline of Patea.

Ngarewa-Packer says the government's decision to phase out new oil exploration permits needs to also include seabed mining.

“We've always been pushing fo changes to the Crown's Mineral Act and we've been involved in the Iwi Chairs Forum for the purpose of being able,” she says.

Last year in an unprecedented first, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) granted TTRL's application to mine millions of tonnes of ironsand in a split decision.

However, Ngarewa-Packer says oil exploration is also a huge concern for the tribe.

“We've had the most amount of oil exploration activity in our backyard than any other Iwi in the country,” she says, "We're experts in this field and we've always pushed that there's stronger regulations and legislation”.

The first matter before the court is the role of the EPA.

All appellants do not want them to present submissions as they were not presented neutrally and it was the EPA who granted the mining application.

The high court hearing began yesterday.

Today, Counsel Cooke gave his concluding comments highlighting six errors in granting the TTRL seabed mining application- then the other four appellants will have their say.

“We need to make that transition and certainly signal to everyone how that transition is going to look in the next five, 10, 20, 30 years.  And I think Māori iwi definitely need to be involved in leading some of those kōrero,” says Ngarewa-Packer.

Judge Churchman has reserved his decision on the EPA's overall role until after he hears from all appellants and TTRL.