Tairāwhiti says yes to a clean environment for our mokopuna today and for generations to come. Tairāwhiti have a responsibility to uphold their mana motuhake over their land and their peoples and are calling on the Government to honour their sovereignty.
The above sentiments are the resounding messages from the community hui in Kaiti Mall that I attended last week. The Green Party and I support the community, hapū and iwi voices who are opposing the block offer to deep sea oil prospecting and exploration off the East Coast.
Of note was the strong wāhine line-up of speakers who have long been at the forefront of organising and mobilising the opposition to deep sea oil drilling and exploration.
Marise Lant, Dayle Takitimu, Ani Pahuru-Huriwai, Tina Ngata and Meredith Akuhata-Brown are all leaders from Tairāwhiti who spoke collectively of the importance of protecting their kāpata kai (food cupboard) and protecting the marine life for their children and generations of descendants to come. There was also a clear call for their right to be involved in the decisions made about their rohe.
Three of us wāhine politicians all with Tāirawhiti connections attended and spoke to support this locally-led wāhine leadership and the community, hapū and iwi opposition to deep sea oil. Alongside myself were Marama Fox from the Māori Party and Meka Whaitiri from Labour.
The Green Party is very clear in our opposition to deep sea oil. My colleague Gareth Hughes has campaigned for an end to deep sea oil for many years in his role as energy spokesperson. He will continue to campaign for a transition to cleaner energy as our candidate for the East Coast electorate.
Opening up more and more seabed on the East Coast to oil drilling is a sign of desperation from a Government that doesn’t know how to build a sustainable future that works for everyone and our planet. The government are choosing to ignore the fact that even if we burn 80% of our current oil reserves, we would heat the planet up more than it can handle.
The Greens in Government would put a moratorium on deep sea oil drilling and will promote transformative clean energy projects to end reliance on the fossil fuels that cause climate change and pose a risk to our environment.
I applaud the grassroots and tangata whenua leadership who are exercising their protection responsibilities over their regions. As a daughter of Te Tairāwhiti I stand with you.