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Don’t Shoot the Messenger Says Te Whanau a Apanui

Don’t Shoot the Messenger Te Whanau a Apanui Tells the Government

Tauranga, Sunday 22 July 2012: Today Te Whanau a Apanui tribal leader Rikirangi Gage expressed deep concerns on the eve of a court appearance where te Whanau a Apanui skipper Elvis Teddy’s is charged with under the Maritime Safety Act and for resisting arrest from April last year.

“We regard Elvis Teddy in high esteem for the stand he took last year on behalf of our tribe and people across Aotearoa opposing deep sea oil exploration and drilling”, said Mr Gage. “We will be greatly aggrieved if Elvis Teddy is punished in any way for defending his tribal waters, life in the ocean and his livelihood. The messenger would have been shot rather than the Government dealing with the real issues. Deep sea oil exploration and drilling threatens one of the greatest resources that we have all inherited and must pass on to the next generation in better condition that we found it.”

“There are times in history that act as urgent markers to change direction. Last year saw two of significance. The flotilla representing a united front opposing deep sea oil exploration and drilling in the Raukumara Basin was one. This was reinforced by the second when the Rena oil spill months later served as a warning to those who weren’t listening the first time, when Te Whanau a Apanui and Greenpeace framed the obvious issues.”

“It is not part of our tradition or we believe in any intelligent custom, to assault life in the sea with 200 decibel sonic explosions for oil exploration, risks of pollution from oil spills and drilling and from the compounding damage of climate change when the oil is burnt.”

“When protest action was at its peak in 2004 over the seabed and foreshore we saw politicians claim that if the seabed and foreshore was owned by the Government it would protect the rights of access of all New Zealanders.”

“The truth was exposed when only weeks after the Seabed and Foreshore Act was signed: seabed areas the size of New Zealand had permits approved for oil and mineral prospecting. The Government had nationalised the seabed for international corporate interests. As a result we are now we are forced to stand against the risks of deep sea oil drilling. The Raukumara Basin is the first of many drilling and mining applications by multinational companies”, said Mr Gage.

Last April as Elvis Teddy skippered the fishing boat San Pietro, Rikirangi Gage was on board and contacted the Captain of the Orient Explorer seismic testing ship clearly telling him that the survey ship was not welcome in Te Whanau a Apanui tribal waters (1).

Elvis Teddy skippers one of Te Whanau a Apanui’s tribal fishing boat and earns his living from it. As yet, Petrobras have not abandoned their deep sea oil interesting in New Zealand. Since last year’s events the Ministry of Economic Development have rapidly continued issuing oil prospecting and exploration permits.

Elvis Teddy’s court case begins in the Tauranga District Court tomorrow morning at 10am.

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Transcript of message from Rikirangi Gage to Captain of the Orient Explorer, 3 April 2011:

“This is the Te Whanau a Apanui vessel the San Pietro calling the Oriental Explorer. As has been relayed to you earlier, you are not welcome in our waters. Accordingly and as an expression of our mana in these waters, and our deep concern for the adverse effects of deep sea drilling, we will be positioning the Te Whanau a Apanui vessel directly in your path, approximately one and half nautical miles. I repeat, approximately. We will not be moving, we will be doing some fishing. That’s what our waters are for. Not for pollution. To the HMS Taupo and the New Zealand Police who boarded our vessel yesterday, we wish to reiterate that this is not a protest. We are defending tribal waters and our rights from reckless government policies and the threat of deep sea drilling which our hapu have not consented to and continue to oppose. We acknowledge that you have your job to do. We too have a duty, to uphold the mana of our hapu, and to ensure the sustainability of our waters so that continues to nourish future generations. We will not stand by and allow the New Zealand Government to trample on our mana, on the Treaty, on our Treaty rights and our rights as indigenous peoples under the Declaration on Indigenous Rights.”

ends

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