21 Oct 2013

Iwi opposes Taranaki drilling plans

8:39 pm on 21 October 2013

A South Taranaki iwi is opposing an oil and gas company's plans to drill on the Egmont National Park boundaries.

Ngaruahine iwi, led by one of its hapu, Ngati Haua Whanui, is opposing Canadian company Tag Oil's plans to establish a well site at a consent hearing which is underway at Stratford District Council.

Tag Oil's lawyer Scott Grieve says the company will not be drilling into the park, but acknowledges it will take place on the park's boundary.

The company wants to drill eight wells at a site on a farm off Rowan Road which it is calling Heat Seeker. The site is within 330 metres from the park and if enough oil and gas is found, Tag Oil will produce from the site for up to 30 years.

Tag says it is not allowed to drill beneath Mount Tarankai, considered sacred by iwi, and has no intention to do so. Chief operating officer Drew Cadenhead says the permit does not go into the park but, rather, the wells will go straight down for between 4000 and 5000 metres.

But Ngati Haua Whanui does not want the wells and says there's been no consideration of its customary rights under the Resource Management Act. It is also concerned there is a lack of buffer zones to protect nearby streams.

Ngaruahine's chief negotiator Daisy Noble says although the well site will be just outside the park boundaries, Tag Oil is not clear in its proposal that it won't drill in the direction of the mountain and end up beneath it.

The Department of Conservation, which is responsible for managing the park, has not consulted with iwi, but has given its written approval for the site to proceed.

Ms Noble says she is angry that DoC did not inform the iwi of the drilling plans.