Kaimoana, Motiti, and the oil

Yesterday I was on Motiti Island, where the hapu have borne the brunt of the oil and debris from the grounded Rena. You can clearly see the Rena really from the coast. The hapu are extremely well organised with clean-up crews. They have all the protective gear and they are sending teams out every day.

They took me on a trip around the coastline, with the safety officer and team leaders to check for oil and debris. There were lots of stranded containers and timber piled up on unreachable rocks. But, for the time being at least, on the surface it was pretty clean.

Under the surface is a very different story.

Under the surface kina are blackened and dead. Crayfish are found smothered in oil and dead. Under the surface, the fish and shellfish are polluted and cannot be eaten.

Under the surface of this disaster are the families who eat everyday from the ocean but cannot anymore.

John Key talks of compensation for business, tourism and the fishing industry, and rightly so. Peoples’ livelihoods are in peril and financial support is needed. That is the right thing to do.

But what about those hundreds of families on low incomes who supplement their meagre incomes with the bounty of the sea? There are hundreds of families on minimum wages or benefits or superannuation who cannot afford seafood, so they get it straight out of the ocean—as is their birthright.

That is how the ocean is used by coastal communities every day in this country: as a daily source of fresh healthy food.

So, who will compensate their food budgets?

Does John Key understand that his failure to take the warnings seriously means that families have lost a food source on which they and their kids depend?

No, he clearly does not. His glib comment that this will be all ‘over by Christmas’ underlines his shallowness.

The shellfish could take many months to recover back to a healthy, safe state. They are filter feeders and there will have to be rigorous on-going testing of shellfish beds all along the coast and on every island and reef. The cost to the fish stocks is unknown, as is the impact on the phytoplankton at the beginning of the food chain. It could be months before the shellfish can be declared safe to eat. That means months without this food for those who rely on it.

On Motiti, throughout the day, the clean-up crews were well feed and cared for. That is the way of manakitanga and for coastal peoples, kuia and kaumatua, seafood is a source of pride and richness.

John Key has an irresponsibly shallow understanding of the consequences of his failure.

14 Comments Posted

  1. As I have said before. Pity that, politicians, Journalists, and several other professions that affect our lives and environment, are not held to the same standards of responsibility for mistakes as ships officers.

    Mind you, they would all be in jail.

  2. Unfortunately Shunda, the fact is that National is delinquent here on several fronts:

    First of course, is the claim that we are/were ready for an even larger spill. This proved that we were not and are not prepared. Which proves beyond any doubt that they have NO RIGHT to sell off rights to offshore drilling. That is I think, criminal negligence on their part.

    Second: If it isn’t owned by someone they don’t count it as an asset or loss. No part of the environment is “money”, so they can sell it off and don’t care if it gets destroyed… unless it is a tourist attraction.

    Third: When faced with a need to respond on an emergency basis because the WEATHER might not cooperate, they ignored the natural forces and followed their “process”, believing in their hearts that Mother Nature would wait for the “Masters of the Universe”.

    Fourth: When the risks of allowing the lowest cost option to prevail along our coasts were weighed up their predecessors opted for the lowest cost option “free market” solution. The recommendations regarding cabotage were ignored/rejected.

    Fifth: The ratification of the treaty regarding Maritime indemnity was simply ignored. Could have had it passed by acclamation in an hour or two… as it is not even remotely controversial.

    The current government is, without a doubt, one of the worst governments that New Zealand could suffer…


  3. Shunda barunda

    How extensive? answer: you don’t know.

    That’s right… we don’t know how bad things are yet. Things could get a lot worse. Your argument is pathetic Shunda.

    What utterly ridiculous political opportunism based on ignorance and an appeal to the poor to do your bidding.

    Firstly, You’re quoting me and I’m not a politician… I’m not even a green member Shunda. I’m a New Zealand blogger.

    Secondly, I’m not asking the poor to do my bidding. Do you even know what you’re talking about… are you drunk?

    Thirdly, there is an additional and quantifiable cost for the people effected. They should be reimbursed for that cost.

  4. With unemployment in the Bay of Plenty already at around 9.5%, the ocean is an essential source of food. On the back of harsh welfare reforms, meaning many young people now rely on their families, the loss of Kaimoana is going to be felt harshly and on many levels.

    The additional costs to compensate for that loss will be extensive.

    How extensive? answer: you don’t know.

    How would the govt provide compensation and establish just who to compensate?
    Answer: you don’t know.

    What utterly ridiculous political opportunism based on ignorance and an appeal to the poor to do your bidding.

    The party of principles? not a bloody chance.

  5. @ robertguyton

    Toxic particles are lifted out of the ocean in a natural process. Dirty rain can occur a long way from the site where the contaminants are located. You can usually tell a cloud that contains dirty rain because it has a light yellow hew. It will look and sometimes move differently to surrounding clouds. It’s a good idea not to be caught in this rain, or to collect drinking water from it.

    One way to tell if the rain is contaminated with oil is to have a flat smooth surface outside. After it stops raining, check that there are no small particles or grit that the surrounding water is separating off from.

    I blogged a few weeks back about Oil Damaging fish DNA in species in the Gulf of Mexico.

    The study found damage has occurred to the reproductive functions of Killifish from exposure to toxic chemicals found in oil released after the BP disaster, which spewed 4.9 million barrels off the coast of Louisiana in 2010.

  6. That Key hasn’t given regard to the kaimoana resource and those who gather it, is no surprise. Can someone say whether the dispersant will accumulate in the shellfish and what the effects of that might be? And can you tell me, Jackal, about the ‘dirty rain’? I heard that the roof-collected drinking water on Motiti island is unusable, but can’t see the connection with the Rena. Is it by-spray from when the dispersant was helicopter-applied?

  7. So, who will compensate their food budgets?

    With unemployment in the Bay of Plenty already at around 9.5%, the ocean is an essential source of food. On the back of harsh welfare reforms, meaning many young people now rely on their families, the loss of Kaimoana is going to be felt harshly and on many levels.

    The additional costs to compensate for that loss will be extensive.

    The repercussions from continuing to gather food when it might be contaminated will not be recognized. The path that such an uncaring system inflicts upon a large section of the community, should not be underestimated.

    I would expect there to be no compensation for this, or the fact that dirty rain is affecting many peoples water supplies. Once the media forget, expect services to forget as well.

    The compensation the authorities are talking about will only be for businesses in Tauranga. There will be nothing for the people most affected.

  8. @Trevor29 9:48 PM

    Yep, you are probably correct, re how the the word is used on occasion internationally. But in the NZ seafaring community it’s use is inextricably linked with regulation.

  9. Shunda – Metiria’s main point is that this disaster has affected the non-monetary income of this group of people and for a long period, but John Key hasn’t mentioned any compensation for this and seems to believe that there will be no long term effects, despite obvious evidence to the contrary.


  10. Shunda barunda 9:23 PM

    No doubt an enquiry will determine the immediate cause of this disaster. And I suspect it will be negligence by those already charged with criminal offences.

    But you need to look at the wider picture, Shunda. Why are foreign-owned rust-bucket vessels with multiple seaworthiness deficiencies and poorly trained and poorly paid crew allowed to service New Zealand’s ports?

    Just like everything the Nats have done, it is the lowest common denominator approach. Bring back cabotage so New Zealanders have some control over ensuring acceptable standards in coastal shipping are maintained.

  11. Way to go politicising a monumental c@ck up by the crew of a container ship!

    Key had no more control over this event than did Helen Clark or any other politician.

    Direct your anger at the people that put that crew on that boat, anything else is just cheap political opportunism to invoke a response from the ignorant or the angry.

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