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Statoil caught breaking own rules to woo iwi

Statoil caught breaking own rules to woo iwi

Thursday 27 August - Norwegian oil giant Statoil has been snapped during a visit to New Zealand, trying to win over individual iwi leaders rather than engaging collectively in line with its own protocols.

Senior Statoil executives are in the country for a closed door meeting with the Northland Regional Council Maori Advisory Committee over the company’s plans to drill for oil off Northland’s west coast. Protests are expected at the meeting.

But a Greenpeace investigation has revealed Statoil picking off individual iwi leaders ahead of Friday, in an effort to bolster support for its controversial drilling plans.

“Statoil has launched a classic divide and rule campaign,” said Greenpeace New Zealand campaigner Mike Smith.

“From both a Maori and Norwegian perspective, this is not the done thing. It shows a level of desperation and stupidity on Statoil’s part that’s likely to be very damaging for the company in the long term.”

Norwegian protocol around engagement with indigenous peoples is very strict, specifying that consultation must be “through appropriate procedures and through representative institutions”. (1)

But Statoil representatives (including high-ranking Vice President of Security and Sustainability Hedda Felin, who’s flown in from Norway) were spotted at a Wellington café this week with an iwi leader from Northland.

Statoil had earlier approached another Maori leader with talk of financial support for community projects in the North, including one involving a local school. That Maori leader has since been ordered to "cease and desist" discussions with Statoil as he has no mandate.

“Statoil seems to have a cheque-book at the ready, and a willingness to dispense with due process and their own protocols,” said Smith.

“You don’t consult with iwi by going and picking off individuals and meeting them on the quiet. Maori expect decision-making in regard to issues as serious as deep water drilling to be conducted in a transparent way that’s open to all affected hapu members. Statoil knows this.

“This is also an embarrassment for Norway, which prides itself on certain rules of engagement with indigenous communities.”

All this follows two Statoil visits to Northland last year, during which executives were thrown off a marae and tables at which company representatives were sitting were upturned by 28th Maori Battalion survivor Selwyn Clarke.

“Statoil is not welcome in New Zealand,” said Mike Smith. “Deep sea oil drilling is the wrong direction for our country. It runs counter to plunging oil prices, counter to a global shift to clean energy and most importantly, counter to climate science, which tells us that fossil fuels must stay in the ground if we’re to avoid global catastrophe.”


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