Oct 12, 2011

The Rena Disaster

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


  1. "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 1000."

    The power of 1000?

    That would involve an oil spill substantially bigger than the known universe.

    Times 1000, perhaps?

  2. Morgan Godfrey:

    Your Language is a More Significant Polluting Impact on our Culture than that of the Heavy Oil Being Spewed from the Rena.

    That you cannot communicate with coherant proper English only expresses your personal ignorance and I would ask therefore, Why should anyone take you seriously given the Verbal Pollution You Spew Forth.

    I have grown up 100 meters from the Mt Maunganui Beach and have seen many huge changes to the coastal region due to many forcesn over the past 50+ years.

    This one is Not A Natural One but will have hideous long term implications for all of us.

    Yes, it is a Huge Adverse Hit to the Local Region in the "Bay of Plenty" - But Regardless of this this Nation Faces a Worse Pollution Greater By Far than this Heavy Oil Slick that it is unwilling to deal with and I would not by your language expect you to be concerned about the MORAL FILTH AND POLLUTION THAT IS BEING PROPERGATED EVERY DAY 24 / 7/ 365 on Television, Radio, Print Media, The Internet, and other media.

    If you are seriously concerned about your Environment - you should read history carefully and recognise that "What We Sow in Moral Filth Terms as a Nation We Will Reap as a Nation the Social & Economic Consequences of this huge Moral Oil Slick" that is covering our nation. THIS PROPOGATION OF FILTH AND POLLUTION IN OUR CULTURE CAN NOT CONTINUE IF WE WISH TO SEE OUR SOCIAL/SOCIETAL & NATURAL ENVIRONMENT SURVIVE AS WE AHVE BECOME ACUSTOMED TO ACCEPTING IS OU RIGHT!

    This Moral Filth and Pollution is and WILL Have a Far Greater Damaging Impact on our way of life in this country than any minimal Heavy Oil Spill Will Ever Have the Capacity to To Do.

    Please start the Societal Moral Pollution Clean UP by Keeping Your INNER VERBAL POLLUTION IN SIDE YOUR MOUTH & Keep if From Spewing its Corrossive Impact on the External World Called Our Environment!

    Long Standing Mounty!

  3. This is why the foreshore should have stayed in Maori hands.

    It seems White NZ has an infatuation with bankers turned politicians - first a Reserve Bank Governor, now a Jewish merchant banker associated with one of the banks responsible for the global financial crisis and eventual corporate bailouts being protested in the USA at present.

    The 'power and the privilege' somehow equate siphoning great wealth for an individual with good leadership of the collective. Since the very first parliament we've had one self-serving politician after the next. This includes the Maori politicians too. Like the facial American Dream people tolerate it in hope of realising that dream. But neoliberalism doesn't work that way. What we are witnessing is the quick death of capitalism. Quick I say, because the system hasn't been in place for very long. Funny, too, because in international business they equate capitalism with democracy. But then the meaning of democracy has changed from people power to one person, one vote. Ironically, too, representative democracy benefits the 1% by placing the real power and privilege in the hands of a few in a perpetual two party system with identical policies, beneficiaries and culture.

    Oh I see just today someone had a brilliant idea to pump the oil out of the vessel. Many were wondering why they didn't do this on day one rather than sit around scratching their nuts wondering how many bureaucrats and politicians it would take to change a lightbulb.



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