The Rena disaster goes to show New Zealand does not have the capacity to respond to even the most minor of oil spills. New Zealand does not have the policy mechanisms or the capacity to deal with an actual spill and the consequences thereof - not even a minor spill. Hekia Parata should take note. If she approves oil extraction in the Raukumara this could end up happening to her moana and her whenua in Ngati Porou, but
to the power of x1000.
The response from the authorities has been typical New Zealand - casual as anything. The hope for the best approach. The authorities have sat around twiddling their thumbs waiting for someone to tell them what to do, but that someone, read John Key, has taken the same hands off approach he takes to dealing with his Cabinet and his Governments policy. The Prime Minister needed to provide the impetus in the immediate wake of the disaster because the backwater hicks at Maritime NZ had no idea how bad this could get nor any power to do anything substantial. A state of emergency should be declared immediately and the resources we do have should be deployed now. Or even better the resources should have been deployed straight after the fact. It blows my mind that the Government declined the offer from Lancer Industries to pump oil from the ship. WTF.
The effect the disaster will have on the moana and the whenua will be devastating. Not only will the oil affect the health of the moana and whenua, but the toxic, and ineffective may I add, dispersant the authorities have used will also damage the moana and whenua. The dispersant used is four times more toxic than the oil itself. The disaster is going to severely affect customary and recreational activities. Most worryingly the disaster is going to affect the spiritual health of the Iwi of Tauranga Moana. When the land is healthy the people are healthy, when the land weeps the people weep. The spill is going to devastate kaimoana as well as the spiritual guardians of Tauranga Moana. I am not sure what the spiritual guardians, kaitiaki etc, of Tauranga Moana are, but I know some Iwi hold, for example, the Stingray as a prominent spiritual guardian.
Local Iwi should be given a more prominent role in determining the response, who should be held to account and how the consequences will be dealt with. Naturally, given we have a National Government at the helm, Maori have been sidelined. Only today have Maori been given a place on the response team.
If New Zealand doesn’t have the capacity to respond to a minor oil spill from a container ship, how the hell will we deal with a spill, either minor or major, from an oil rig? This is the deathblow against the Government’s dream of oil extraction. Hekia cannot now, as a woman immersed in her culture and well aware of the effects of a disaster on Papatuanuku, push ahead in her role as Minister for Energy and Resources. There will be immense pressure coming from her Iwi Ngati Porou and her whanaunga in Te Whanau a Apanui, but there will also be pressure coming from Cabinet. It’s going to be interesting to see whose interests she prioritises, I’m leaning towards Cabinet.
Of course, not only are Maori furious, but so is the rest of New Zealand – especially the people of the Bay of Plenty who have had their backyard ruined, meaning their summer is down the drain too. Last night Minister for the Environment Nick Smith got an ear bashing, and rightly so, from angry Tauranga residents. And what about compensation for the businesspeople who have lost their livelihoods? John Key is deflecting the issue in typical fashion; he doesn’t want to front the hard issues.
Before I end this post, here’s something to chew on:
|Our ineffective PM|