20 Apr 2011

Hundreds attend oil exploration protests

6:50 pm on 20 April 2011

Hundreds of people throughout New Zealand have turned out to protest against oil exploration off East Cape.

Petrobras is conducting a survey of 12,000 square kilometres of seabed in the Raukumara Basin to determine if oil or gas are likely to be under the ocean floor in commercial quantities.

The Brazilian company has a permit to conduct the search and a legal obligation to continue under the terms of an agreement with the New Zealand Government.

The protests on Wednesday included delivering Prime Minister John Key an oil cake and were held from Auckland to Dunedin.

An organiser of the Wellington protest, Dayle Takitimu, believes New Zealanders have not given the Government a mandate to drill for oil.

Ms Takitimu says her iwi, Te Whanau a Apanui, is lodging a complaint with the United Nations over the Government not consulting with it before awarding Petrobras the permit.

Ms Takitimu says the rallies also mark one year to the day since the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster and are to serve as a reminder of the environmental cost of deep sea drilling.

Protest boats return to site

A flotilla of protest boats has headed back to sea to further disrupt the exploration.

Greenpeace was following Petrobras' survey vessel Orient Explorer but returned to land last week after being issued exclusion notices for deploying swimmers in its path.

Five boats with about 50 protesters will leave Hicks Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

Greenpeace says it is not the group's intention to put swimmers in front of the vessel again.

A fishing boat from iwi Te Whanau-a-Apanui, which is also opposed to the exploration, has already left for the site.