It has been said that Ngati Porou fight most effectively and most often with the pen. But when our environment was threatened, we also fought them with placards.
In 2010 the Brazillian multi-national company Petrobas was awarded a five-year license by the New Zealand government to survey a huge area for oil off the Ngati Porou rohe.
This survey was strongly objected to by environmental groups such as Greenpeace as well as iwi and hapū including Ngati Porou and our western whanaunga Te Whanau-a-Apanui.
The objection to the survey was because of the potential risk from drilling that might follow. Deep water drilling like that was riskier than other forms, and followed the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The risks were that a spill would be much harder to contain and could irreparably damage the environment, destroying kai-moana for generations to come.
There were also serious questions around the potential economic benefits of the drilling to Ngati Porou, with doubts around actual employment or flow on for the local economy.
Ngati Porou responded as an iwi by questioning both the environmental risks and the challenge to our rangatiratanga. Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou noted the lack of consultation and also our ongoing claims to our mineral rights, consistently ignored by the Crown. (read our submission here)
The strongest opposition though came from hapu. The “Stop the Drilling on our East Coast” campaign had whanau and hapu coming out and protesting on our beaches, reminding our people and the outside world of the danger and what we take for granted. These movements were vibrant and powerful protest actions.
Petrobras pulled out of prospecting in 2012. They cited economic conditions but it seemed our resistance, with both the placard and the pen, certainly played its part.