Indigenous | Parihaka

Parihaka protests oil and gas exploration permit on 45,000 acres

Parihaka propose the establishment of a 45,000 acre zone which rules out mining exploration. Photo / File

The Parihaka community has raised its voice against a contentious oil and gas exploration permit being offered within its rohe, in a strongly-worded letter to the Minister of Energy and Resources.

Parihaka is seeking an exclusion zone based on the 45,000 acre Parihaka Block originally surveyed by the crown in 1879; the letter follows similar ones delivered in 2011 and 2013 which resulted in a small reservation around the community.

“We write to you on behalf of our people, to carry the concerns and wishes of our people... expressing that we do not support any oil and gas exploration in our rohe,” Tuhi-Ao Bailey, chair of the Parihaka Papakāinga Trust wrote in a letter sent to Megan Woods, the minister for Energy and Resources, Wednesday.

“We appreciate that an exclusion area was drawn around our papakāinga in 2013 however we would remind the crown that Parihaka is not just the existing legal boundary of our small remaining papakāinga reserve. As shown in the [1879] map... Parihaka stretched from the maunga to the moana.”

Tuhi-Ao Bailey, told their proposed exclusion zone accounts for roughly a fifth of the total permit block on offer, which in turn amounts to around 1/4 of the Taranaki region.

“Parihaka was and is made up of several hapū and iwi who took refuge in the papakāinga. The people were supported and largely fed by surrounding hapū and iwi who also maintained their maara kai and papakāinga in the wider rohe.” Tuhi-Ao Bailey wrote.

The 1879 map attached to the trust’s letter shows many roads that took people to and from Parihaka from surrounding hapū in particular but also iwi to the north, south and east.

A proposed exclusion zone is based on the 45,000-acre Parihaka Block, originally surveyed by the crown in 1879.

“Our people have sites of significance and waahi tapu on our maunga Taranaki above Parihaka all the way down to the coastal low tide mark.” the trust letter states.

The exclusion zone does includes private land acquired during the crown’s campaign of mass confiscation.

The whenua, Bailey says, was promised to be returned by the crown, although it never happened.

“The crown initially promised our people 45,000 acres in the Parihaka Block, which over time through confiscation and racist legislation, was whittled down to several blocks of only 5,100 acres in total in Maori ownership, 2,000 acres still held under perpetual leases and 56 acres for our papakāinga.”

“We maintain that Parihaka stretched from the maunga to the moana as repeatedly stated by our people in the late 1800s.” the chair says.

In a letter to Minister of Energy and Resources, Megan Woods, the Parihaka community has expressed vehement disapproval to exploratory mining permits urging the government to protect their ancestral lands and sacred sites from potential environmental and cultural threats.

“With this in mind, we kindly request that you exclude the entire Parihaka Block from the 2020 and all future Petroleum Block Offers.”

Bids on the latest oil and gas Permit Block Offer 2020 closed 5pm Wednesday 26 July.

Bailey says the Trust and the crown have a working relationship similar to a settlement deed, which has been conducive to the interests of both, and while she is yet to hear back from the minister, it is likely the request will take time for consideration.

The Minister of Energy and Resources’ office has been approached for comment.

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