Government announces new possible sites for gas exploration

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

The government has announced new sites around the country that could potentially be explored for gas and oil.

As Energy Minister Simon Bridges addressed delegates at the New Zealand Petroleum summit, a number of protesters stood outside.

They stood in silence, but their silence spoke volumes.

Greenpeace protesters held photos of the impact oil companies have on the environment.

Steve Abel from Greenpeace says, “Extreme weather event, people displaced from their houses, the suffering it causes and the oil spills that are caused by the oil industry.”

Energy Minister Simon Bridges announced the blocks on offer for 2015, including Northland, Dunedin coast, Wellington coast, and the Taranaki area, which has seen a large amount of oil drilling over the years.

Pieri Munro from Ngāti Ruanui says, “They were aware of their options and they had food on the table.  At the end of the day, it's their livelihood.  But understand the consequences of the task at hand, then they can decide if it's for them or not.”

Under New Zealand law, overseas oil companies aren't required to consult with local iwi.

General Manager of New Zealand Petroleum and Mineral James Stevenson-Wallace says it's a top priority.

James Stevenson-Wallace says, “New Zealand Petroleum & Mineral has been out and consulted with over 154 local iwi and also working with a number of local authority to make sure they are aware of the proposed activity under the block offer process.”

Emily Drinkwater from Ngāti Raukawa says, “These guys in here are ruining it for everyone, for tangata whenua, for all indigenous around the world, for rich, for poor, we have no other planet to go to.”

Oil companies here and overseas will have six months to bid for the three on-shore and four off-shore areas around the country.

In December, Simon Bridges will announce the successful candidates.