The Maori Affairs minister has pledged support for a North Taranaki hapu as it continues to occupy land and hold up an oil company’s drilling project.
Last night about 25 members of the Otaraua hapu prepared for their second night blocking access to a site being used by Greymouth Petroleum for a new pipeline to Te Kowhai gasfield off Ngatimaru Rd at Tikorangi.
The hapu took over on Sunday after claims work would desecrate Tikorangi Pa, a waahi tapu (sacred) site, which is not protected by the district plan.
So why is it not protected:
New Plymouth District Council consents manager Ralph Broad said the site was not protected under the district plan because it had been left off a list of waahi tapu sites provided by local iwi and hapu.
So why is the company at fault? Why is no one asking questions of why the hapu did not include it on the list?
Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples said he was “deeply disappointed” by the situation and said Maori interests needed to be taken more seriously.
He said the company should have consulted with the hapu despite not legally being required to do so.
“It shows ignorance by the companies that they can go ahead without thinking. I would expect to see consultation with iwi,” he said.
With all due respect I disagree with Dr Sharples. It is primarily the role of the Council to consult with iwi and hapu (which they did) and mark on the distract plans areas of special significance. Only if a resource consent relates to one of those areas would you expect consultation. I don’t agree that each and every resource consent should require consultation – this is the whole purpose of the District Plan.
Hapu plans to take the issues to the environment court and seek an interim enforcement order to halt works that had been put off until today.
And that is the appropriate thing to do – more productive than protesting outside against a company that has obeyed the law.