4 Jul 2011

Iwi continues anti-deep sea drilling campaign

8:05 pm on 4 July 2011

Eastern Bay of Plenty tribe Te Whānau-ā-Apanui is trying to persuade wavering communities to oppose deep sea petroleum drilling before the return of oil giant Petrobras.

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui says it is battling the Brazilian company for hearts and minds in the tribe's rohe, or area.

In May Petrobras finished a seismic survey in waters up to 3km deep in the Raukumara Basin.

Police on naval vessels intervened as fisherman from the iwi and Greenpeace swimmers blockaded the survey.

The company aims to return to drill exploration wells.

Te Whānau-ā-Apanui spokesperson Robert Rūhā says the petroleum industry is campaigning to win over the local hapū and iwi which remain undecided about deep sea petroleum mining.

Mr Rūhā says drilling opponents will meet with community leaders to assure them they will not be alone if they take a stand against Petrobras.

He says it is becoming glaringly obvious oil companies are campaigning to win over townships, hapu and iwi.

"I think it's important for us to make contact with these communities and those hapu and iwi leaders to let them know that there are people who have made a stance, who have put the pegs in the ground and are not prepared to move - and that they won't be alone if they choose to do that as well."

A summer strategy is being drawn up for all of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui to consider within a month, Mr Rūhā says.

Petrobras has declined to comment.

Last Friday, New Zealand was ranked the fifth best country for oil and gas exploration.

The Fraser Institute Global Petroleum Survey asked 500 petroleum companies to rank countries based on barriers to investment in exploration.

The United States, Netherlands, Hungary and Canada joined New Zealand in the top five.

Acting Minister of Energy and Resources Hekia Parata said the result confirms that New Zealand is a well-regarded destination for international investment.