Māori interests in petroleum

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Waitaiki-Curry H, Kellett RL. 2020. Māori interests in petroleum. Lower Hutt (NZ): GNS Science. 26 p. (GNS Science miscellaneous series; 136). doi:10.21420/BD31-X929.

As part of a wider study of the public perception of the petroleum resource sector in New Zealand, the relationship between Māori and the oil and gas industry has been reviewed in the context of cultural, economic and societal factors. Existing literature on the subject can be divided into several themes, including submissions to and reports from the Waitangi Tribunal, books and articles on the early history of the petroleum industry in New Zealand, guides to engagement with Māori in resource development and magazine articles describing individual community responses to modern oil and gas activity. The Treaty claims and the resulting reports highlight that Māori are fundamentally concerned with the loss of access to the resources from the onset of land confiscation. The loss of access to petroleum resources is viewed as a fundamental breach of the Treaty of Waitangi, for which compensation should be given. However, the economic loss is only part of the issue, and wider themes of the lack of stewardship over the resources, and the environmental and cultural damage done by exploration and exploitation, continue to be key factors in the Māori response to the sector. A review of the historical changes to Māori engagement with the oil and gas industry shows that local and international politics are also closely tied to the approaches of iwi and hapū to protect the resource. Over the last 150 years, global issues such as wars, energy crises, climate change and legislation and societal change in New Zealand have influenced attitudes to oil and gas. There are a wide range of positions taken by Māori groups that continue to grapple with the complex issues around guardianship of the natural resource and the opportunities for economic benefits for their people. While most modern exploration companies are undertaking significant engagement with Māori communities, there is insufficient recognition of the risks to the disruption of the Māori world by exploration and production activities. (auth)