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South Taranaki iwi meet with Government over reopening of oil and gas exploration

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Government ministers Shane Jones (pictured) and Tama Potaka met online with iwi leaders about changes to the Crown Minerals Act. Photo / Michael Cunningham

South Taranaki iwi Ngāti Ruanui has met with Government ministers about plans to remove the ban on new oil and gas exploration and changes to the Crown Minerals Act.

Ngāti Ruanui Trust taiao officer Graham Young said the online hui, which included iwi leaders around the motu and senior Māori Government ministers Shane Jones and Tama Potaka, outlined the Government’s intention to lift the offshore mining ban and to open up mining across the rest of the country.

“I think it’s a pity that we are particularly opening up offshore oil and gas prospecting; I think that has a higher degree of risk,” Young said.

But he said Minister for Resources Jones made it clear that this was the Government’s position for the future.

Jones has previously said he does not want Māori caught up in “green gullibility” over changes to the Crown Minerals Act.

Young said if new exploration was going to be a reality, it was important that iwi and Māori were not left behind in the process.

Ngāti Ruanui wanted to be an “active partner with the Crown”.

Potaka, the Minister for Conservation and Māori Crown Relations, said the intention in removing the ban was to provide a secure and affordable supply of gas for Aotearoa and to attract international investment.

“The gas industry has boosted Taranaki, including Māori, for decades. It keeps the lights on.”

Potaka said there was “opportunity in this mahi for iwi”.

Young said the gas supply had not yet reached critically low levels to justify reopening offshore exploration.

“We’d rather see the ban remain in place offshore and a restricted onshore development.

“If new exploration is going to be the reality – and I think the Government has made that clear – we need to make sure our rights and interests are protected under that new regime.”

Eva de Jong is a reporter for the Whanganui Chronicle covering health stories and general news. She began as a reporter in 2023.

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