Maori Put ‘On Hold’ While Brownlee Ignores Claims (Greens)

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The Green Party is calling on Minister Brownlee to apologise to iwi for mismanagement of the oil permitting process.

“The Minister’s willful disregard of Maori interests is unacceptable and he must come clean,” David Clendon, the Green Party Maori Affairs Spokesperson said today.

A Crown Minerals official told the Waitangi Tribunal’s Management of the Petroleum Resource Inquiry in April that Te Aupouri had formally asserted its rights over the Reinga Block area, calling for a halt to the process. The official also testified that Te Aupouri was sent a ‘holding response’ letter from Crown Minerals while the Minister considered the issue. However, no formal response to Te Aupouri was ever sent and the Reinga Block offer formally opened in January of this year, despite their claim.

“The Minister must explain the glaring discrepancy between his words and actions and those of his officials,” Mr Clendon said.

“A pattern of mismanagement is emerging. Brownlee offered to apologise to East Coast Iwi a fortnight ago for poor consultation, he’s fending off confusion surrounding the Northland Block offer and has failed in his duties concerning the Reinga Block offer.

“This is poor governance and the Green Party will fight for an honest and transparent process.

“The Minister is trying to hide behind the Continental Shelf Act, claiming that ownership of petroleum and the EEZ is vested in the Crown, but his Ministry has testified otherwise and has acknowledged Te Aupouri’s assertion to the Waitangi Tribunal.”

Crown Minerals confirmed to the Tribunal that the Crown does not own the petroleum in the EEZ and is obliged to investigate to see if there are customary rights extant when those are raised; that it is an obligation under both international law and under the Treaty of Waitangi.

“The Waitangi Tribunal is aware, Crown Minerals is aware, but the Minister doesn’t seem to care,” Mr Clendon said.

“The Minister needs to be up front and honest with Maori and up front and honest with the bidding oil companies regarding their rights.

“Maori have a legitimate concern about the safety and environmental effects of oil drilling and the Government needs to listen.

“The Crown’s right to manage oil exploration in the EEZ is not in dispute. The Minister’s right to mismanage it is,” Mr Clendon said.

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