Seismic Surveying in NZ Waters Criticized at UN Forum

Press Release – Te Ikaroa

Seismic surveying and oil extraction along the eastern seaboard of the North Island of New Zealand are a violation of indigenous rights, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues heard today.

PRESS RELEASE

28 APRIL 2017

SEISMIC SURVEYING IN NEW ZEALAND WATERS CRITICIZED AT UNITED NATIONS FORUM.

Seismic surveying and oil extraction along the eastern seaboard of the North Island of New Zealand are a violation of indigenous rights, the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues heard today.

Tawera Tahuri, on behalf of campaign group Te Ikaroa – Defending Our Waters, highlighted the proven effects of seismic testing, noting that the iwi and hapu rely upon the coastal waters for “spiritual, cultural, emotional and physical sustenance”, and calling upon the Permanent Forum to support increased indigenous rights in relation to ocean governance.

“We consider the block offer process, the seismic surveying and the proposed drilling to all be clear violations of our rights as secured by the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples” Mrs Tahuri reported to the Permanent Forum, noting the incapacity of Maritime New Zealand to tend to a spill at the proposed drilling depths.

The statement went further into the issues of ocean governance, declaring the international United Nations Law of the Sea to be a perpetuation of the highly criticized Doctrine of Discovery, and calling upon the Permanent Forum to support the establishment of an indigenous co-commission to oversee the implementation of the Law of the Sea, which will be discussed at the upcoming UN International Ocean Conference in New York.

“The statement was received well by the Permanent Forum, they showed a lot of interest in what we had to say and the Permanent Forum Chair referred to the statement in her summary of the day, saying that she thought an indigenous co-commission was a good idea” reported Mrs Tahuri.

Seismic surveying along the eastern seaboard commenced at the end of 2016, and is being carried out by the world’s largest seismic testing vessel, Amazon Warrior. Campaign group Te Ikaroa have been opposing the activity, drafting a petition that has been endorsed by over 80 hapū and iwi, and gathering nearly 23,000 signatures of support. Recently, traditional ocean voyaging waka Te Matau a Māui sailed out to confront the Amazon Warrior directly and declare its presence as unwelcome.

“We are very happy with the outcome of the statement at the United Nations, and how it’s been received” responded Te Ikaroa campaigner Tina Ngata.

“Already further opportunities are opening up for collaboration and international support, and we will be looking into them. The search for oil along our coastline is the height of climate irresponsibility and we will continue to oppose this activity at every forum available to us, both here and overseas.”

CONTACT: Tere Harrison 021 414 728 OR Tina Ngata 021482428

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF TE IKAROA – DEFENDING OUR WATERS

Te Ikaroa consists of the indigenous descendants of the ancestral keepers of the lands and waters along the Eastern Seaboard of Te Ika a Maui, Aotearoa. We acknowledge the rightful keepers of this land, greet our indigenous brothers and sisters, and thank the Permanent Forum for the opportunity to address them in relation to indigenous ocean governance and seismic testing in our ancestral waters of Ikaroa – Rawhiti.

In 2015, against the objections of local government and indigenous communities, the NZ govt opened up large areas of our coastline for the oil and gas industry to prospect, explore and/or extract. The process resulted in the allocation of a prospecting permit to Statoil/Chevron which is being carried out through seismic surveying of our seabed, and is with a view to drilling at unprecedented depths of over 3000m. This depth by far exceeds the capacity for Maritime New Zealand to tend to any spill. For these reasons and more we have the support of over 80 indigenous communities along our coastline in petitioning for the removal of Statoil and Chevron from our waters.

We are ocean peoples, we rely upon the delicately balanced ecosysteMrs of our coastal waters for spiritual, cultural, emotional and physical sustenance. Our ancestral genealogies link us to the marine populations within our territory. Seismic testing has been proven to disturb, injure and kill marine life. Over the course of the recent seismic surveying we have experienced unprecedented levels of marine mammal beachings, including over 600 pilot whales in just two days.

We consider the block offer process, the seismic surveying and the proposed drilling to all be clear violations of our rights as secured by the Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Madam Chair, we recall that article 26 of the Declaration secures our rights to our territories which we possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use. The ocean is our unceded ancestral territory. Our sustained occupancy is primarily evidenced by our living voyaging traditions.

We are deeply concerned at the role of the General Assembly in assuming the right to ocean governance, including the establishment of exclusive economic zones that cut across and redefine our ancestral oceanic territories. We view the Law of the Sea to be a perpetuation of the Discovery Doctrine which constitutes multiple violations of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

These violations lay the groundwork for such abuse as the aforementioned seismic testing and oil drilling, but also extend to militarisation, weapons testing, marine pollution and a range of other forMrs of ocean abuse.

We note that in a few weeks time, nation states will be convening to discuss the implementation of the Law of the Sea and sustainable use of marine resources under SGD14.

We further note a number of resolutions from the 2016 IUCN Congress that uphold indigenous rights in matters relating to conservation and sustainable development.

Madam Chair, we hold grave concerns for the ability to deliver on sustainable development goals in relation to our ancestral oceanic territories without a clear indigenous voice. We therefore call upon the Permanent Forum to support our request for an indigenous co-commission to oversee matters of ocean governance.

BACKGROUND

27 April 2017 United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues hears statement from Tawera Tahuri on behalf of Te Ikaroa on concerns regarding seismic testing, drilling, and ocean governance.

22 April 2017 Te Ikaroa campaigners Raihania Tipoki and Tina Ngata are joined by international indigenous rights lawyer Moana Jackson to hold a summit on indigenous oil resistance along Te Ikaroa.

5 April 2017 The Te Ikaroa petition, endorsed by over 80 hapu and iwi along eastern seaboard, surpasses 20,000 signatures of support.

1 April 2017 Traditional Māori waka Te Matau a Māui departs Ahuriri, Napier and intercepts the Amazon Warrior to deliver a message of resistance.

3 April 2017 Te Matau a Māui intercepts the Amazon Warrior. Delivers statements notifying the Amazon Warrior it is in breach of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and instructs it to depart immediately.

3 March 2017 Traditional Māori waka Ngahiraka Mai Tawhiti captained by renowned navigator, Jack Thatcher also delivered a message to the Amazon Warrior on behalf of the peoples of Ikaroa Rāwhiti stating (The Amazon Warrior) “stop your work and depart immediately”.

13 January 2017 Reuben Tīpoki joined a Greenpeace flotilla to confront the Amazon Warrior to convey that the people of Te Ikaroa Rāwhiti do not give permission for the Amazon Warrior to be in our waters. ENDS

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