4 May 2015

Tribes tackle Norwegian oil giant

1:21 pm on 4 May 2015

A small Māori delegation from the Far North is confronting Norway's biggest oil company head on.

oil drilling rig

Photo: 123RF

A roopu representing Te Hiku o Te Ika tribes is travelling to the head office of Statoil to demonstrate the widespread opposition to its oil exploration programme in Te Reinga Basin.

Far North tribal representatives leave tomorrow and will be meeting with the indigenous Saami Parliament of Norway to seek their support in demanding a future free of deep sea oil drilling.

The leader of the delegation, Mike Smith, said Far North Māori had a very clear message.

"The object of our mission across to Norway is to send a clear message that basically they [Statoil] have not got the consent of Northland Māori to be operating in our traditional waters," Mr Smith said.

"It's a breach of our customary law and we're requiring them to cease their operations and to remove any of their ships, take them back to Norway and not to return again."

The delegation is making the journey on behalf of hapū and iwi including Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Kahu and Te Rārawa who want to get the Saami Nation based in the Finnmark county in the far north of Norway on their side.

"So what we're wanting to do is to form a strong relationship with the Saami people and to seek joint political, legal and moral co-operation in terms of getting Statoil out of our waters," he said.

Mr Smith said the Saami president, Aili Keskitalo, had already expressed her concerns to Statoil about its activities in the South Pacific.

Ngāti Kahu Runanga chairperson Dr Makere Mutu said the New Zealand Government did not have the constitutional authority to issue any licenses within her tribe's territory without its prior consent.

"Ngati Kahu are vehemently opposed to anyone conducting petroleum exploration anywhere in our territories," Dr Mutu said.

Ahipara kaumatua Sonny Harrison, 67, will be joining Mr Smith and his partner Hinekaa Mako, to represent the views of Te Rārawa.