The Transforming Power of Love, Hope & Faith

10 02 2012

A number of New Zealand studies suggest that more than half of people leaving gangs are assisted through the process by involvement with a church or faith community.

Taking Matthew 25 seriously, many church communities also provide an essential support for those coming out of prison who have few resources or support people.

Criminologist Professor John Pitts speaking at a gang prevention conference organised by church leaders in the UK said:

“The value of faith community involvement in gang initiatives is that church members are local, they are often connected with the young people and families experiencing these problems, they have made a personal commitment to helping and they are likely to be around for much longer than the professionals – and continuity is very important in this kind of work.”


He added:

“However good intentions and commitment aren’t enough. This is complex and sometimes dangerous work, and we need to find ways in which statutory and voluntary agencies can work with faith groups to provide high quality training and ongoing support.”

A new gang transformation initiative supported by Safe Tairawhiti, Gisborne District Council, NZ Police, schools and residents associations also needs local churches involved.

We hope to learn from the success of faith-based groups like Sam Chapman’s Awhi Community Development organization in South Auckland, Prison Fellowship NZ and Wesley Community Action in Porirua that have been working with gang leaders over the past few years.

While many of his contemporaries thought the best approach to beating the Romans was to meet violence with violence, Jesus advocated a more creative engagement. Designed to help people mature and move on from the ‘might is right’ paradigm, Jesus used the restorative power of love, hope and faith to transform both oppressive and marginalised communities. Perhaps we can too?





A Turning Tide?

26 01 2012

It seems the tide is turning.

The Dominon Post reports that over 300 people participated in a protest on Wednesday in Napier organised by local farmers to coincide with the Apache presentation to the Hawkes Bay Regional Council. Concerned residents in Hawkes Bay have a long and growing list of questions they would like answered by the companies and councils involved. Until satisfactory assurances are provided by independent experts, these citizens and ratepayers are saying they don’t want fracking to happen in their region.

Yesterday I received a copy of the letter from the Christchurch City Council dated 16 January 2012 to the Minister of Energy and Resources requesting a moratorium on fracking until an independent inquiry is completed into the practice. The resolution in the Council was passed 10 votes (including Mayor Bob Parker) to 2.

In the last month more jurisdictions around the world including a number of local authorities in Ireland and the country of Bulgaria have joined France, South Africa, New York State and dozens of smaller authorities across North America in establishing a moratorium or banning fracking completely. Many of these decisions have been endorsed by the local chambers of commerce, medical boards, oil and gas commissions and water catchment boards.

The Labour Party has this week suggested Parliament instigates a ‘robust inquiry’ into the practice in New Zealand – either by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment or the Environmental Protection Agency. Unlike the recent report on fracking released by Taranaki Regional Council, the Terms of Reference for such a study would need wide agreement from experts across a range of disciplines and be at arms length from the legislators, regulators and industry.





East Coast Fracking Questions Register

22 01 2012

This is a list of questions relating to the Apache/TAG exploration plans for the East Coast that I will try to post answers for – feel free to ask any other questions in the Comments Box below to add to the list.

The responses are my understanding at the time of writing and do not necessarily reflect GDC or anyone else’s opinion or position.

The staff report on the proposed visit is available here.

A discussion on Radio NZ Morning Report (23/1/12) about the trip is available here.

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1. Who is the GDC staff member going on the trip to Canada?

Trevor Freeman, Manager of Environmental Services and District Soil Conservator is the staff member that his manager is recommending for the trip. Trevor’s participation is yet to be confirmed, it is a recommendation to the full Council meeting on 26 January and councillors may decide he should not go or that GDC should fund it without Apache assistance.

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2. How are they and GDC going to manage the moral/ethical pressure (subconscious as well as conscious) of being beholden to the oil company that is hosting-paying for them to make such a trip? 

The itinerary will be on the public record once confirmed – and is in fact still open if people have suggested contacts that the group could visit near Calgary, Fort St John and Victoria, BC. Trevor will provide a full report to Council on his return and is expected to establish contacts with regulators and other stakeholders in Canada that should be broader than just those arranged by Apache Corp. By definition subconscious pressure will be difficult to manage, but staff understand that Apache Corp. representatives will be at only a  few of the meetings scheduled – probably only the meetings with their Canadian staff. 

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3. Why to Canada and these parts of Canada in particular?

British Columbia seems to be the area that Apache is most active in fracking – including in 2010 the largest frack job ever completed at that time. It seems sensible to make contact with people there who have seen the impacts firsthand and establish some ongoing connections between us and them as a way to share learning, experience, policies, concerns, etc.

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4. Why is this money being accepted by GDC for just one individual to travel all that way to look at a few examples and talk to just a few people in the world when there’s masses and masses of information and research available to many and from all points of view?

GDC can and will still access as much of the reliable information available online and from various academic and independent sources as it comes to hand. This is an opportunity to see the impacts firsthand, to build networks and build the capacity of GDC staff to understand the process which our district has no previous experience with. I am working on a primer on fracking that collates the most compelling peer-reviewed evidence against the practice to share with my colleagues and the public – assistance with this project would be appreciated!

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5. What could be achieved by the money being used for a panel of widely respected district people (Council, Iwi, other community interests) to independently review all available information and report to the district on all the issues as they apply to the East Coast (and if necessary, interview people by skype, define what trips to observe directly should be made by whom about what)?

This could also be something GDC require Apache to fund as part of any new consents application. Apache has reportedly invested $100million in the project, so they should support a robust investigation process by NZ regulators and the public, and their representatives have made public comments to that effect. 

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6. What is GDC’s logic and rationale for a geotechnical / soil conservation staff member going?

Most of the resource consent applications will relate to disturbance of the soil and discharge to land – there is also likely be water take and possibly discharge to air consent applications and the individual going to Canada is responsible for all these areas as Manager of Environmental Services.

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7. Who initated this oil-company funded trip?

I understand it was recently proposed by the company to staff from the three councils involved (Gisborne District Council, Hawkes Bay Regional Council and Horizons Council). 

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8. What and whose purposes and intent is the trip designed to serve?

My understanding, based on the report going to Council this week, is that the trip is designed to help build the knowledge of GDC staff in relation to Apache Corp. operations in Canada and the regulatory framework employed by Canadian authorities. I guess the company hopes the visit will reassure Council staff who work on behalf of their residents and ratepayers that Apache Corp. is a socially and environmentally responsible company that is regarded with respect in the areas of Canada it operates. My support for the trip will be because it enables our staff to also have direct contact with environmentalists, First Nations representatives, politicians and regulators who may have concerns and even direct opposition to Apache Corp. activities.

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9. What alternative uses of $ oil company offering for: research / review / staff training / were debated/considered – if any?

The trip is seen as a valuable learning opportunity for staff. It is expected that the costs will be between $3-5k and these will be incurred by GDC and then reimbursed by the company. Further staff training, research and reviews will definitely be required and may be funded as part of any consent application and/or funded by Gisborne ratepayers, central government and possibly academic institutions – like Auckland University that next month is hosting a visiting researcher from Duke University that has published papers documenting the dangers of fracking.

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I’ve asked Apache/TAG Oil and GDC staff to comment on the following questions and will post responses if/when they provide them:

What environmental and public health risk assessments are being undertaken before drilling is finally scheduled, and by whom?

What insurance cover will be in effect, covering landowners and GDC, to cover loss of potable water supply due to petroleum contamination, land erosion etc.?

Is a survey of water supply catchment significance, in relation to proposed drilling sites being undertaken?

What would be the proposed method for handling drilling water flowback and drilling waste disposal, bearing in mid the hazardous chemical nature of oil shale or oil source rock detritus?

What engineering measures would be envisaged to prevent long-term corrosion and seismic shock damage to well casing which could result in petro-chemical contamination of aquifers?

What fracking chemicals are expected to be used for oil shale work: BTEX volatiles, barium, diesel oil?

What fracking pressures would you expect to be used if working into oil shale?

At Whakatutu, where do you anticipate that the high volumes of drilling water needed will be obtained from?

Will the well borers used by Tag/Apache test completed cement casing, if ‘yes’, what is the method of testing?

To what depth would bore cementation be taken, from the surface and how many steel liners would be used to below waster aquifer depth?

Would you anticipate using ponding areas for storing flowback water etc. at the drilling site?

If commercial quantities of gas or oil are found, what would be the means for transporting the gas/oil from the drilling site and to where?

Aquifer water in the vicinity of drilling sites should be pre-tested for petroleum contaminants prior to commencement of drilling and reasonably frequently after drilling.This testing should, ideally, be undertaken by an organisation unrelated commercially to the petroleum industry?

In view of the fact that drilling operations are subject to material failures, human error, faulty cement injection and seismic shock damage, what assurance can the petroleum industry give that aquifer contamination will not occur as a result of such factors?

Does Tag Oil/Apache acknowledge that deep drilling and fracking can result in earthquake shocks, as acknowledged by the USA Geological Survey after the series of shocks experienced last year in Northern Dakota, also at a Cuadrilla Ltd. Drilling site near Blackpool, in England, as acknowledged by the U.K. Geological Survey?

In view of the fact that deep drilling and fracking can cause earthquake shocks, is a survey of faultlines being undertaken across the proposed drilling area, in relation to possible earthquake shock generation? ( Ref: Deep drilling and high-pressure injection caused a series of earthquake shock in the Denver, Colorado area, between 1961 and 1966, when toxic chemicals were being disposed of underground, the disposal method then being abandoned due to the earthquakes).





Councillor welcomes CCC decision to request govt moratorium on fracking

9 12 2011

Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie is welcoming news that the Christchurch City Council yesterday agreed to call on the government to put a moratorium in place until a full independent inquiry has been conducted.

Mr Caddie said it was encouraging to see the first local authority take a precautionary approach on the issue given the lack of knowledge about the practice in New Zealand.

“Glaring gaps in a report released last month by the Taranaki Regional Council that was supposed to reassure the public on the safety of fracking simply reinforced growing concerns about the practice” said Mr Caddie.

Recent reports from the United States Geological Survey[1] and a fracking company in the UK that confirm the link between earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing have raised serious concerns about the practice worldwide.

“The TRC report provides no independent scientific evidence on the safety of the practice in relation to seismic activity, nor does it provide information on the rate of well casing failures and provides little detail on waste management and disposal options” said Mr Caddie.

Mr Caddie said he is waiting to hear back from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment who is considering requests to undertake an independent inquiry into fracking.

“We need that inquiry to also consider the bigger picture questions of how oil and gas compare to coal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions as there are conflicting reports[2] on which fossil fuels contribute more to climate change.”

Mr Caddie said he hopes the Christchurch City Council decision will put pressure on the government to put a moratorium in place similar to what South Africa has at present – or it could follow France and ban the practice outright in favour of renewable energy sources.

“Apache Corporation claims France banned fracking to protect its nuclear industry but the French government has suggested it may no longer source electricity from nuclear power as early as 2040″ [3] said Mr Caddie.





Fracked Facts

29 10 2011

I AGREE with John Pfahlert (October 22) that democracy is great, it means people have the power to determine what does and doesn’t happen in their community. The people who depend on particular land and water resources have a right to decide what happens to them and Mr Pfalert may be disappointed that local opposition has almost nothing to do with the general election.
While this oil and gas lobbyist tries to paint legitimate concern from affected residents as the work of “zealots”, the Gisborne residents’ petition simply asks the council not to allow any fracking to proceed before an independent report on the practice is presented to Parliament by the Commissioner for the Environment.
A number of local councils in the US have banned fracking recently, and subsequently been subject to lawsuits from the industry. It will be interesting to see what happens if Gisborne District Council decides to ban it.
Mr Pfahlert says 40 wells have been fracked in Taranaki and the Taranaki Regional Council requires a resource consent before fracking can be undertaken. He omitted the fact that TRC have only required a resource consent for fracking since July of this year! Only after TRC were challenged by locals did the council seek legal advice, which came back that it should require consents.
Mr Pfahlert also claims that “there has been no pollution of water or land in Taranaki from the discharge of fracking fluids”. But TRC has acknowledged no one tested the water when the casing on a fracking well (now owned by TAG Oil) ruptured underground a few years ago. Two “power fluid’’ leaks have been confirmed under the farmland of families locked in an ongoing dispute with a TAG Oil subsidiary.
Similarly, TRC stopped monitoring for some contaminants on land where fracking waste had been spread, and an OIA request suggested the council doesn’t even know which chemicals are being used by some operators.
Mr Pfahlert says almost all Taranaki fracking occurs “at least 2.5km below the surface” and “water producing bores in Taranaki are rarely deeper than 400m and most are shallower than 250m”.
TAG Oil however confirm that they are fracking at depths of 1400-1800 metres. TAG also says the rock fractures up to 915 metres in any direction — much closer to aquifers than Mr Pfalert’s claim that the fractures extend only “a few tens of metres from the well bore”. I think they need to agree on what their “facts” are!
Mr Pfahlert admits that many of the additives used in fracturing are toxic and says they are usually no more than 2 percent of the fracking fluid. Most fracking wells use 2-6 million litres of water — so they are using 40,000 to 120,000 litres of chemical concentrates.
Given that fracking is a new practice here with no independent scientific studies, and it seems sparse regulation and limited monitoring, we should also look overseas to where the practice has been happening for some time.
In a recent study commissioned by the European Parliament, scientists concluded that “at a time when sustainability is key to future operations, it can be questioned whether the injection of toxic chemicals in the underground should be allowed . . . as long-term effects are not investigated”.
An independent study commissioned by British fracking consortium Cuadrilla Resources, published this month, confirmed their fracking operation caused a series of earthquakes along the Lancashire coastline earlier this year. Cuadrilla is now holding urgent talks with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), after the British Geological Survey’s conclusion that the two tremors were most likely caused by nearby fracking.
So yes Mr Pfahlert, let’s have a debate based on the facts please.




Glass off roads and footpaths

21 10 2011

As a commuter cyclist I share the frustration of UPSET CYCLIST (18 October) about the amount of broken glass on our city roads and as a parent and neighbour I’ve seen too many local kids with cut feet from glass on footpaths and verges.

We know it is almost exclusively intoxicated people who drop or throw their empty bottles while walking to or from a drinking session. Fines rarely work because few residents who care are on the streets late at night to catch the offenders. More rubbish or recycling bins would also be fairly ineffective as being a tidy Kiwi is usually the last thing on the drinker’s mind.

RTDs being sold only in plastic bottles could be something we ask council staff to work on with other councils, central government, producers and local outlets.

Littering issues are a big part of what Gisborne District Council’s environmental health educator teaches school students, with recycling being promoted as the best alternative. Nurturing in young children a sense of responsibility for keeping our home and wider community clean is a challenge but not impossible.

If broken glass is reported to Council it enters the Request for Service system and is picked up by a contractor. It would be great if all of us could commit to checking our street on Sundays as paying someone to drive across town to pick up one bottle doesn’t make much sense.

New Plymouth District Council has a very successful Community Champions (CC) programme. A Community Liaison Officer supports volunteers who are constantly working their magic around the district picking up rubbish and credits these CCs for helping to prevent broken glass in their public places and on roads. The programme is thriving – initially with a goal to get 25 CCs it now boasts 88 and the number continues to grow. NPDC liquor bylaws also prevent liquor being consumed in a number of public places beyond the CBD and within six months of coming into place, are credited with reducing the amount of glass litter by 34%.

Returning empty beverage containers for recycling and reuse has become a way of life for South Australians, resulting in the state being known as the cleanest and tidiest in Australia. The container deposit legislation (CDL) is said to enjoy overwhelming public and community support. For over 30 years, South Australia was the only state or territory in Australia with container deposit legislation. However in 2010 the Northern Territory Government announced plans to implement its own scheme by the end of 2011. Based on the South Australian model, it will be a 10-cent refund for containers, similar to those covered by SA’s legislation. This is another option we could look at with central government and producers.

Picking up glass is something people with court ordered community hours could do for the community. They would have to be supervised but this would only need to be checking the areas were clean.

Keep Gisborne Beautiful has done some great work in particularly problem spots and along with GDC and Tairāwhiti Environment Centre the organisations are looking at ways to expand KGB initiatives – the New Plymouth scheme will be part of these discussions, so anyone interested with ideas or keen to volunteer can contact Council.

If all of the above fails, someone suggested to me that, like the tagging wall idea, we establish a space to legitimately take glass to smash it for therapeutic purposes as they have in some factories overseas!





Learning Lessons from Montara Spill

17 10 2011

While the petroleum industry and government continue to claim there is minimal risk from deep sea oil and gas exploration, a recent oil and gas rig blow-out in Australia produced the equivalent of one Rena spill every day for 74 days in a row.

New Zealand should learn from the Montara oil and gas spill in Western Australia in 2009. A massive slick was released following a blowout from the Montara wellhead platform and continued leaking for over two months. The Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism estimates that the Montara oil leak could have been as high as 320 tonnes per day.

Mr Pfahlert claimed the industry has a spotless safety record, then when reminded of just two recent rig spills in Taranaki he acknowledged there have been more than minor spills in New Zealand. He neglects to also say that Taranaki drills are based in an average of just 150 metres of water. The Raumkumara Basin permit allows drilling in depths of up to three kilometres, the same as the Montara well. The Deepwater Horizon exploratory well that blew out last year was only half as deep.

The Montara and Deepwater Horizon spills suggest, as our Anglican Bishops recently pointed out, that current technology is being pushed beyond safe limits. While there are many deep sea wells being drilled around the world, the risk from deep sea drilling is far greater than the wells New Zealand has benefited from to date in Taranaki. The Raukumara Basin is one of the most geologically unstable areas of New Zealand, the whole plan really is nuts.

The government is rushing legislation to regulate the Exclusive Economic Zone with submissions due this week. The recent major spills, including it seems the Rena disaster, have shown that design, planning and operational decisions cause most spill disasters and it is impossible to adequately regulate against human error. All the regulation in the world can’t clean up a relatively small spill like the one in Tauranga let alone if it had been an oil tanker or well blow out which are thousands of times larger.

The Rena was carrying only around two million litres of oil when it ran aground and only a small proportion of that has so far been released into the sea.

In 2003 the Capella Voyager carrying 126,823,466 litres of oil ran aground near Whangarei and fortunately did not spill its load. If the government’s plans for deep sea oil drilling go ahead, we will see many more large oil tankers operating in NZ waters increasing the risk of another accident.

In 1989 the Exxon Valdez oil tanker also hit a reef. It was carrying 208 million litres and spilled as much as 100 million litres. The effects are still being felt.

East Coast communities have categorically refused to accept the risk being imposed on their coastline and traditional fishing grounds by the government and petroleum industry.

It is pleasing to hear Labour have changed their position on deep sea drilling as the current situation in Tauranga reveals nothing can stop more than a minor oil slick. We can only hope the anger and grief being expressed by Bay of Plenty residents shows the National Party how unacceptable their policy is to coastal communities around the country.





Fracking bans go global…

23 09 2011

In June this year France became the first country to ban the controversial oil and gas mining practice of hydraulic fracking. Under the new law, companies with exploration permits had two months to declare whether they intended to use hydraulic fracturing – if they did, their permits were to be revoked.

The government of South Africa has extended a ban on fracking for another six months while the Minister of Mineral Resources waits on a report from the heads of government departments responsible for trade, science and minerals to be rewritten.

In Australia the New South Wales Governement recently extended  a ban on fracking to the end of the year. A further ban on toxic chemicals will be in place when the moratorium is lifted.

Across North America local municipalities have been taking action to ban fracking. In the state of Pennsylvania alone more than 100 townships have passed ordinances to restrict or ban mining, particularly fracking activities, within their jurisdiction. Thus far municipality-adopted fracking bans are in places such as Buffalo, New York; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Morgantown and Westover, West Virginia.

In June the New York State Assembly extended an existing ban on fracking for another year. The New Jersey State legislature passed a bill to permanently ban fracking earlier this year but the Governor vetoed that decision and restricted the ban to one more year.

In the case of Morgantown, the ban stonewalled Northeast Natural Energy, LLC’s fracking operations just outside city limits. In June, Northeast sued the municipality, seeking tens of millions of dollars for the unlawful taking of its property rights without just compensation and last month a judge upheld the company’s claims and reversed the local council decision. The court decision is expected to be appealed.

Should Gisborne District Council or any other local authority decide, after widespread consultation with its residents, to change our District Plan rules and put a hold or ban on fracking within our district, can we expect similar litigation from foreign corporations keen to exploit our natural resources for their profit?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is studying the impact of fracking and last Tuesday submitted a draft of its study to the agency’s Science Advisory Board for review. Initial findings from the study are expected to be made public by the end of 2012. No such study has been commissioned in New Zealand yet and a growing number of people I have been speaking believe we should access to a similar report before allowing any fracking-related activity in the Gisborne District.





Renewed call to exit Petrobras deal after explosion

11 08 2011

A Gisborne District Councillor has renewed his call for the government to suspend the East Coast exploration permit for Brazilian energy company Petrobras following a lethal explosion at a Petrobras refinery.

Manu Caddie says the idea that Petrobras has had a clean safety record for ten years is a complete myth.

Mr Caddie says the death of this Petrobras employee and disfigurement of his colleague follow a similar explosion at a Petrobras refinery in Argentina three years ago, a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year as the company prepared to start the first new extraction since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and the assassination two years ago of a fisherman and ongoing intimidation of his colleagues who have been protesting against a Petrobras pipeline in Guanabara Bay, Brazil.

“This company is not a model corporate citizen and the Minister of Energy and Resources should not be allowing Petrobras to operate in New Zealand waters” says Mr Caddie.

Government officials yesterday ordered Petrobras to close down the refinery in Argentina after an explosion at the plant killed a 44 year old worker and left another 47 year old in hospital with severe burns to 15% of his body.

The refinery, located in the southern port city of Bahía Blanca, has a capacity of 31,000 barrels per day. The blast happened in a resting area when workers turned on the lights after finishing their shift.

The plant accounts for about five percent of Argentina’s total refining capacity of 627,000 BPD. The plant needs two days to gradually shut down.

Mr Caddie says the statement issued by Petrobras assuring investors that refining operations had not been affected by the explosion was another example of how little regard the company has for people over profit. The claim also seemed to be at odds with the government official statement that said the plant had to be closed until the incident was fully investigated.





Rites of passage research identifies keys for healthy, prosperous communities

27 07 2011

What life lessons did previous generations of young people need to learn before they became adults? Could these rites of passage provide some answers to the multiple challenges facing young Maori today? These two questions were the foundation for a three year national project led by Gisborne researcher Manu Caddie and a team of youth workers from around the country.

Youth workers from Christchurch, Wellington, Whanganui, Whangarei and Tairawhiti interviewed Maori elders in their community with a focus on their experiences as children and adolescents. The interviews were filmed and key messages from the stories compiled into a written summary.

On Sunday night, 6pm at the Dome Cinema in Gisborne, the findings from the project will be released at a public screening of “Hei Tikitiki” a new DVD featuring highlights from more than 30 interviews. A 90 page report summarising the research findings will be available along with copies of the DVD.

The project received financial support from the Lottery Community Sector Research Fund and was based on a proposal Mr Caddie prepared for Te Ora Hou Aotearoa in 2008. Te Ora Hou is a national network of faith-based Maori youth and community development organisations established in 1976. “Te Ora Hou youth workers have contact with hundreds of young people and families every week, we decided this research was essential to do if we wanted to assist with healthy transitions into adulthood” said Mr Caddie. “The 21st yard glass, passing exams and making babies are modern day rites of passage but there are some fundamental life lessons that aren’t being taught to young people, in fact advertising, entertainment media and consumer culture promote the exact opposite of values previous generations were required to accept before being considered responsible adults.”

“It’s been a fairly drawn out process, some of the people interviewed have since passed away, so the footage we have of their stories is very significant to their families” said Mr Caddie. “It was a really special inter-generational experience for the young people and youth workers to interview their elders. I would like to see an on-going project established in Gisborne where we support young people to record the stories and reflections of our elderly. The way society is structured now we tend to segregate the age groups and the wisdom of older people is lost if they do not have the opportunity to share it with the younger generations coming through.”

Anthropology has for at least the last 200 years looked at the purpose of rites of passage within cultures. “A rite of passage deals with entering a new stage of life, maturation in physical, social and sexual status and membership of a new group” said Mr Caddie. The researchers  important theme running through much of the literature is that rites of passage do not exist for the benefit of the individual participating in the process but for the benefit of the community and culture to which the person belongs.”

Most of the interviewees had grown up in communities and a time where Te Reo was the dominant language and tikanga Māori was still the dominant culture. A few had direct experience of traditional institutions like the whare wananga or were mentored by tohunga and kuia born in the 19th Century who ensured certain processes and rituals were in place for the child and adolescents.

Many of the interviewees felt that their experience of rites of passage was more a general process of development rather than an explicit event or an intentional set of lessons that the teachers and learners were consciously participating in.

Interviewees identified a range of experiences more closely assigned with western or contemporary rites of passage including leaving home, first job and working to support parents and siblings, getting a mortgage, general educational advancement including Māori trade training schemes, personal rites of passage, legal marriage, being given or taking responsibility for housework and farm work, choosing own clothing, fashion as a symbol of independence and enlisting in the military.

Common themes that emerged about the purpose and outcomes from experiences that they considered rites of passage include the intergenerational transmission of:

-        Maramatanga / essential values: manaakitanga (hospitality), respect for and valuing the guidance of elders, strong work ethic, personal integrity, contribution to the wellbeing of the whole community, respect and care for the natural environment and other creatures, etc.

-        Mātauranga / essential knowledge: whakapapa (genealogy and how different whānau, hapū and iwi are connected), wahi tapu (sacred places), wahi kai (food sources), battle-sites, astrology, astronomy and patterns of natural phenomenon that guide certain activities, roles and responsibilities of particular whānau within the hapū, cross-cultural comparisons, etc.

-        Mahitanga / essential skills: cultivating food, hunting and collecting food, preparing and storing food, communication skills (whaikōrero/karanga/kōrero/karakia) and hosting skills, house building, martial arts, creative arts and crafts, caring for the natural environment, etc.

Less intentional lessons were also learnt through some experiences such as the importance of alcohol in whānau life, the gendered nature of work, the cyclical nature of violence, etc.

All of the interviewees were able to provide examples of what they considered rites of passage. These were all personal experiences from their childhood and adolescence, in some cases pre-birth and for a few there were experiences they had in late adulthood – a few spoke of practices common in their community that they were aware of in their lifetime or their parents life.

Only a few interviewees were able to share stories of how they participated in particular rituals, institutions or events that would adhere to the famous three stage (separation, transition, and reincorporation) rites of passage. However nearly all of the experiences shared were consistent with the idea of rites of passages being markers of transition from one state of being to another, of being directed by and for the benefit of the wider community and of being essential for the intergenerational transmission of cultural values and community knowledge.

The interviewees stories validate the claim of other recent research that the rite of passage process not only guides the individual’s transition to a new status, but, equally important, it creates public events that celebrate the transition and reaffirm community values, which inform and guide expectations for behaviours essential for the group’s survival.

Mr Caddie said he hopes the project will provide a useful resource for anyone interested in positive youth development, social progress and how we pass on values and knowledge between generations. While the project focused on Maori experiences, Mr Caddie believes the principles and lessons learnt can be applied across any cultural group.

“While government advisors and think-tanks like the New Zealand Institute have identified the real social and economic crisis New Zealand young people find themselves in, we think there are some solutions emerging from the stories of our old people and we need to think about how those experiences might be translated into a contemporary context. There are implications from this research for employment, enterprise, mental health, parenting, education and crime prevention. That’s the next piece of work to be done as we consider the learnings from this report for a broad range of social, cultural and economic issues.”

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Full research report available online from 1 August 2011 at: www.teorahou.org.nz




High score in bad stuff nothing to be proud of…

4 07 2011

A high ranking for New Zealand in the Fraser Institute survey that Acting Minister of Energy and Resources Hekia Parata has been celebrating is nothing to be proud of. If any of the news agencies had bothered to read the survey instead of reprinting her media release they would have read what questions were asked of the industry respondents and what their answers were.

Basically jurisdictions (8 of the top 10 are states of the USA) get high rankings if they have comparatively low levels of royalties and taxes being paid to government, a ‘flexible’ and unorganised labour market and a permissible regulatory regime that does not impose additional costs on the companies. A good example of the latter would be signing off a permit to drill an exploratory well with no requirement to present an Assessment of Environmental Effects, emergency response plan or other health and safety information as Minister Brownlee did for the Raukumara Basin.

New Zealand’s score was no doubt boosted by the certainty factors around the predictability of the regulatory environment, the stability of the government and judiciary and wider socio-economic indicators – we should be proud of these particular factors that also make investment that is environmentally and socially responsible here more attractive.

“Disputed land claims—the uncertainty of unresolved claims made by aboriginals, other groups, or individuals” is one of the 17 factors the survey covers and the labour market questions the ‘militancy of labour’ and ‘local hiring requirements’. In other words, petroleum investors do not like the idea of indigenous people disputing ownership rights in areas like the EEZ that have not been tested in court, do not like strong unions and want to be able to hire the cheapest labour they can from anywhere in the world.

The jurisdictions that tend to do worse in the survey rankings are those that have stronger environmental regulations, more protected wilderness areas, fairer employment legislation and a bigger cut of the profits from resource extraction actually staying with the country the resources are taken from!

Feedback from the industry representatives who completed the survey include comments like: “Excellent investment conditions but difficult geology” and the $4m taxpayer subsidy for geotechnical data provided to the petroleum industry is also noted: “Great fiscal terms, political stability, and free and full access to all geoscience data.”

In any case, as a regular publisher of dubious ‘reports’ encouraging skepticism about the contribution of human activity in climate change, the risks of smoking and problems associated with nuclear energy, the Fraser Institute can hardly be considered an independent source of research. The organisation is well known in Canada as an extreme right wing lobby group, receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from oil companies like ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, the company fined $30 million by the EPA for its role in 300 oil spills that resulted in more than ten million litres of crude oil leaking into ponds, lakes, streams and coastal waters.

So the report is just a glossy whine from the oil and gas lobby. We already know that mining corporations wouldn’t care at all about the environment if citizens and government didn’t force them to. The fact that they’re whining about it is not news.





The Place Where Talent Chooses to Reside

30 06 2011

Presentations in Gisborne this week from two very successful New Zealanders provided clear challenges for us all to support a new direction for our district.

Sir Paul Callaghan undermined conventional thinking that has suggested primary commodities, tourism, wine or even farming can be the economic saviours of the district and nation.

Professor Callaghan made two critical points that as a district we must come to terms with.

The first was to expose the complete myth that we are an egalitarian society. Income disparities have been growing exponentially and we are one of the least equal countries in the OECD. That is a problem not only for the poor but for everyone because countries with greater inequality have worse health, education and crime problems and lower productivity than more equal countries.

The second crucial fact we must acknowledge is that the country has reached the limits of exploiting our natural environment. Resource management decisions have built the wealth of the country but also polluted most low-lying waterways, native species are disappearing forever and we can’t intensify farming to earn our way to a prosperous future.

Professor Callaghan is committed to raising productivity to a level that means the country can afford world leading health care, education and environmental protections. But his message was very clear on this – we have to preserve our natural environment and biodiversity both for its own sake and if we want to attract and retain talent. As he said recently “Talent will goes where talent chooses. And, by and large, talent likes to live where lifestyle is best. The reason is simple. These sorts of businesses can be anywhere. Their markets are entirely overseas, their major component is knowledge and their cost of transport to customers is negligible.”

We heard how Ian Taylor had ideas and opportunities that could have taken him to live in lots of great places around the world, but he wanted to live in Dunedin and raise a family there. The entrepreneurs, scientists and cultural creatives that innovate and develop world-leading products now choose places that are about the lifestyle they want not the physical proximity to markets or research facilities.

There are some basics of course: clean water, reliable electricity, broadband and transport options, decent schools, participatory democracy and a vibrant cultural life all seem pretty important. In our situation some more investment in Information Communication Technology infrastructure, start-up support and greater clarity on regional development goals wouldn’t go amiss. Overall Gisborne is well positioned and already attracting talented people who choose to live in this place – close to the beach, close to marae, without traffic jams, urban sprawl and fear of neighbours.

As Professor Callaghan says, smart firms will locate where their smartest employees want to live. They may not choose large cities. There are small town examples already and there is no reason why Gisborne, Tolaga Bay or Mautuke shouldn’t be locations for high value export manufacturers. Broadband and FedEx can deliver their products to customers anywhere in the world, as fast as from Auckland, Shanghai or London.

So knowledge-based talent can be based anywhere, we can be the place of choice if we are committed to reducing income inequality (not just raising incomes), truly protecting the environment (instead of the popular ‘balancing act’ rhetoric) and continuing with the basics (quality infrastructure and public services) we already have.





What Lies Beneath? All sides of the issue (except the govt. who don’t want to front up)

8 06 2011

 

 

It’s a real shame that both the Acting Minister of Energy & Resources and MED / Crown Minerals declined the invitation to participate in this event on an issue that has high interest both locally and nationally…

A printable version of the poster is available here: what lies beneath (4.9mb PDF)

 

 





Are we ready to step up to the challenge?

4 06 2011

It was encouraging to see the level of interest last week in the report ‘Improving the Transition’ produced by the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor Peter Gluckman last week.

The report challenged successive governments ad hoc approach to addressing serious issues for young people in our country. It was particularly critical about the lack of evidential base for government funded services, a lack of evaluation and monitoring and the failure to invest in the early years. Professor Gluckman also pointed out that solutions to serious problems are going to take many electoral cycles.

In 2001 the Ministry of Justice published a report that suggested early intervention was most effective but also least accurate in identifying where resources should be targeted. The report concluded that spending smaller amounts on more young parents and their children was ultimately a better investment than trying to address the expensive options available to reduce youth offending or locking up adults.

The last Labour-led governments put serious money to initiatives like Family Start focused on the families of pre-school children, support services for teenage parents and social workers in primary schools. The effectiveness of these initiatives seems to be mixed and the evaluations were rarely made public.

The current government has committed around $100million for new services for young offenders plus tens of millions more toward Whanau Ora and the Community Response Fund. The funding for youth offending was based on pre-election promises of boot camps that contradicted all the international and New Zealand literature suggesting those approaches either don’t have any significant effect or actually increase offending. Whanau Ora and the Community Response Fund are based on noble sentiments around devolving decision-making to the community level, though both are still too amorphous to determine at this stage whether they will contribute to the transformational changes necessary in our communities.

Massive cuts to youth health services, early childhood education and support services along with recently announced funding cuts and restructuring of family violence prevention services were not prefaced by any report on their effectiveness, rather election year political priorities seem to outweigh any evidential imperatives.

With the government using their level of borrowing to justify their inability to undertake any substantial new investments (other than more than ten billion on new Roads of National Significance), they should have a clearer commitment to evidence-based and cost-effective service provision.

I look forward to seeing the recommendations that the Office of the Prime Minister comes up with from Professor Gluckman’s report (which had 11 recommendations of its own). Hopefully the proposals are followed by an action plan to address not just woefully underfunded youth mental health services but the more systemic issues relating to the politicization of public policy development, local priority-setting and accountability and the overall quality of relationships between the range of stakeholders in social development.

The Gisborne Herald Editorial last week asked whether our country is prepared to step up to the challenges identified by Professor Gluckman. My response would be that I doubt the report will be enough to make much difference to the lack of courage we have seen to date. The most significant opportunity for alcohol law reform in a generation seems to have passed us by as the government adopted none of the most effective options promoted by the Law Commission and similarly the key proposals in a Law Commission report last month on the Review of Misuse of Drugs Act seemed to have no support from any of the political parties.

At a local level I’m encouraged by the increasing community commitment to positive child and youth development and in this we can hopefully lead the country.





Response to Nick Smith’s announcement on new oceans bill

2 06 2011

MEDIA RELEASE

2 June 2011

A vocal critic of government policy on offshore drilling in the Raukumara Basin says he cautiously welcomes the announcement that a new bill will be introduced this year to establish regulations on minerals exploration and extraction beyond the Territorial Sea.

District Councillor Manu Caddie says the proposal announced by Minister for the Environment Nick Smith is a big step in the right direction.

“I take issue with his statement that what happens beyond the 12 mile limit has less effect on local communities, a large oil or gas leak in the EEZ would have a massive impact on the Coast.”

Mr Caddie says that provided the legislation has provisions at least as robust as the Resource Management Act, he believes it is a positive development.

“It is pleasing to see that where a proposed activity spans the boundary between the territorial sea and EEZ, local government would have a joint role with the EPA in decision-making.

“The devil will be in the detail in terms of things like a substantial bond can be put in place before any drilling starts in case something goes wrong. We have seen overseas when a major spill happens the issue can be tied up in court for decades and the taxpayer foots the cleanup bill and no one is held to account. Requiring a billion dollar bond up front seems fair to me and should be easy to do for companies with a good reputation.”

Mr Caddie says he is also concerned about the process the EPA will use for determining what activities are determined to be permitted, discretionary or prohibited. “The Minister says seismic testing is likely to be permitted but we will make sure the EPA has access to evidence demonstrating the significant impact seismic testing has on some marine life during their regulation-setting decisions.”

“This proposal obviously doesn’t address the fundamental issue of fossil fuel extraction and the problems that creates for the country and the planet.”

ENDS





Petrobras vs. the fishermen (of Guanabara Bay, Brazil)

28 04 2011

AHOMAR fishermen protesting against Petrobras pipeline in Guanabara Bay

Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie says a tip off from a credible source about planned AOS raids led campaigners against drilling off the East Cape to go public. Documentation of recent Police violence against local fishermen opposing a Petrobras owned pipeline in Brazil and the 2007 AOS raids against Tuhoe had meant those opposed to the Petrobras activities in New Zealand had to take the information seriously.
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Mr Caddie says he has obtained a report from Brazil that documents police violence since 2009 against members of Associação dos Homens do Mar (AHOMAR) a union of around 700 fishermen in Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro.
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Amnesty International has taken up the case of the fishermen after the Treasurer of their association was assassinated on 22 May 2009 in front of his wife and children. Paulo César dos Santos Souza was beaten in his home by armed men who then dragged him outside and shot Santos Souza five times in the head. A few hours earlier armed men threatened the protesting fishermen at the Petrobras pipeline worksite. According to Santos Souza’s family, before they killed him they interrogated him, asking him about documents belonging to the fishermen’s union.
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Mr Caddie has been in contact with AHOMAR President Alexandre Anderson de Souza who has escaped attempts on his own life and has been warned by local Police that it is no longer safe for him to fish in the area and he should ‘stay indoors’. “We anticipate some real solidarity between the two campaigns – the fishermen of Guanabara Bay know a lot more about Petrobras than we do in New Zealand, so we look forward to supporting them and learning about their situation as they learn about ours.”
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“While New Zealand does not have the extrajudicial executions and parapolicing mafia of Rio, locals here are questioning the relationships between the Executive, military, Petrobras and the Police in this campaign against deep sea drilling” said Mr Caddie. “The Government are under a huge amount of pressure on this issue and in such situations may resort to desperate measures. The statement issued last night by Police Headquarters that rumours of raids were speculation was less than reassuring – if they have no plans for AOS intervention I think they should explicitly confirm that.”
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Guanabara Bay is the location of a Petrobras accident in 2000 that leaked 1.3 million litres of oil into the bay and the area has still not fully recovered from the event. Petrobras has spent more than US$200million on the cleanup and the company has not had a similar disaster since, though the Petrobras P36 platform sinking in 2001 took 11 lives and 1.5 million litres of oil being leaked into the ocean.
- – – -




San Pietro and the fight against fascism

26 04 2011

A navy tender carrying police moves in to apprehend the tribal fishing boat San Pietro, from under the bows of the seismic survey ship Orient Explorer in traditional fishing grounds off East Cape. Saturday April 23, 2011 Photo: Greenpeace/Malcolm Pullman

San Pietro has been critical in the fight against fascism – the Italian village, where 16,000 allied casualties resulted from a pivotal battle, was key to eventually driving the Germans out of Italy after victories in the North Africa campaign.
“It is significant that San Pietro was a turning point for the allies and I believe it will be in our local struggle too” said District Councillor Manu Caddie.
“Using our own military to defend a foreign corporation and arrest and detain fishermen undertaking their customary rights in their traditional fishing grounds is a national disgrace” said Mr Caddie.
“The real criminal is the Government who issued a deep sea drilling permit with no background check on the safety and environmental history of the company, no consultation with affected communities and no assessment of environmental effects.”
Mr Caddie said the New Zealand National Party policy of auctioning off the country for mining exploration was irresponsible and would no doubt be the subject of years of litigation for groups of people who had better things to do with their precious time and resources. “Dictating what will happen in our district by opening up national parks and our coastline to transnational corporations for fossil fuel extraction shows contempt for local wellbeing and will face fierce and sustained local resistance.”




Time to Stop the Testing

25 04 2011

One of 500 dead penguins that washed up within a few days on a beach near Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2010. Oil exploration is common in the coastal areas around Sao Paulo.

MEDIA RELEASE

25/04/2011

A Gisborne District Councillor is demanding a moratorium on seismic testing following revelations that scores of dead penguins are washing up on East Cape beaches and new international research suggests seismic testing is responsible for killing a range of sea creatures.

Manu Caddie said residents at Waihau Bay near East Cape found a dozen dead penguins yesterday within a 200 metre stretch of coastline and they would have found more if they kept walking. More carcasses were found around the coastline as far as East Cape by locals who say they have never seen so many dead birds washed ashore. “While the government may blame La Nina weather conditions for starving the penguins or suggest a storm killed them, locals haven’t noticed any major storm recently.”

“Evidence is piling up on the impact of the seismic tests both here and abroad” said Mr Caddie, who as a member of the Environment & Policy Committee of Gisborne District Council argued that seismic testing should not be considered a permitted activity in the Gisborne District given the potential harm it can cause to sea life.

“While the District Council is only responsible for the marine coastal environment out to the 12 nautical mile limit, we have a responsibility to protect that environment from the effects of activities that may occur beyond 12 miles. We also have a responsibility as stewards of the region and community leaders to advocate when central government has made a mistake.”

Mr Caddie cited recently published research from researchers at the Technical University of Catalonia in Barcelona that found the deaths of giant squid, washed up on Spanish beaches in 2001 and 2003, were caused by nearby oil and gas seismic surveys.

Environment and Conservation Organisations (ECO) of New Zealand said Spanish research into mass deaths of squid, cuttlefish and octopus showed organ damage in these creatures after just two hours exposure to low frequency noise from 50-400 hertz, or “acoustic smog”, due to oil and gas exploration and shipping.

“The scientists found that the organ that allows squid, octopus and cuttlefish to regulate their positions to balance and direct how and where they swim was damaged leaving the animals unable to move or to feed and vulnerable to predators,” ECO co-chair Barry Weeber said.

Mr Caddie said the activity of the Orient Explorer survey ship is putting all sea life is at risk with sonic booms from sonar gun arrays of up to 259dB firing into the sea floor. “Even the United States has stricter regulations on this activity than the New Zealand government. There is a federal register where the public have an opportunity to assess the proposed seismic testing activity. The applicant has to detail every piece of equipment to be used, with comprehensive information on the acoustic source specifications, the level of activity being undertaken and the estimated impacts on the marine environment.

Mr Caddie said the level of government hypocrisy was reaching new heights given the pressure New Zealand put on Russia last year to stop oil and gas companies using seismic testing in whale migration and breeding areas. “DOC guidelines specifically identify from now until October as the time of year most likely to have negative impacts on whales as they migrate.

Studies published last year by researchers from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the University of Zurich suggest seismic testing has a significant impact on whales, which rely on acoustic signalling for communication, orientation, locating prey and predators:

The sounds from marine exploration surveys are one of several anthropogenic noise sources that have been identified as eliciting behavioural reactions in marine mammals. Seismic surveys rely on systems that produce impulsive, high intensity sounds (190–250 dB re 1 µPa, peak to peak), with most energy below 200 Hz. The peak frequencies of these sounds overlap the acoustic signals and estimated hearing ranges of baleen whales. Such acoustic interference could reduce a whale’s ability to detect biologically relevant signals. With the increase in oil and gas prospecting surveys into deeper waters, there is sparse knowledge on the acoustic responses of baleen whales to sounds from seismic exploration.

Our results clearly show that blue whales change their calling behaviour in response to a low-medium power technology that is presumed to have minor environmental impact. Reducing an individual’s ability to detect socially relevant signals could therefore affect biologically important processes. This study suggests careful reconsideration of the potential behavioural impacts of even low source level seismic survey sounds on large whales.”





Bring it on!

22 04 2011

As pressure grows on the Government and the industry to justify their cavalier approach to deep sea petroleum exploration they cannot seem to provide any assurances. This is encouraging as it means it will be only a matter of time before the threat of losing an election over their indefensible position will mean both major parties support a ban on deep sea exploration and extraction.

The main claims the politicians and lobbyists are clinging on to now seem to be: (a) the economic potential outweighs the risks; (b) adequate regulations will be in place before any drilling commences; and (c) any environmental or economic risks associated with their activities are born entirely by the mining companies and their insurers.

Let’s look at those claims…

  1. Economic Potential: By investing so much political and financial capital in backing big oil, the Government denies New Zealand the prosperity that would come from such investment being made in home grown clean technology. We could be world leaders in this sector but instead their plan locks us into a dangerous and polluting energy future. A more energy independent nation would make us less exposed to oil and gas price shocks. In 2009 Price Waterhouse Coopers estimated our clean technology market could be worth between 7.5 to 22 billion, representing up to 17% of the economy, while oil and gas royalties that year earned only $965m. And while the East Coast wears the risk of another oil disaster, the industry acknowledges that no jobs on the rigs are likely to go to locals. So without even taking into account the massive, potentially criminal, risk our district is being exposed to by deep sea exploration, the numbers by themselves don’t stack up.
  2. Adequate Regulation: No amount of regulation short of banning deep sea exploration will provide proper protection against another disaster. The US agency responsible for regulating deep sea exploration says it will be many years before they can establish a regime that will even minimise (let alone one that could eliminate) risks to the environment and workers. Regulators acknowledge it is a complex, highly technical and inherently risky activity they are charged with overseeing. After all the investigations and regulation strengthening, Petrobras was the first company permitted to resume deep water extraction and almost caused a second disaster last month, a riser broke away from the seabed and it would have started leaking oil if it happened a few days later. Rig inspection is obviously inadequate protection from a large earthquake or simple equipment failure as happened last month for Petrobras. The national ‘oil spill preparedness’ plan consists largely of three small vessels that are limited to inshore responses, the Gulf disaster required hundreds of vessels and we are much more isolated.
  3. User Pays for Accident: BP lost over US$100 million in value following the Deepwater Horizon accident. There is a real risk that such an event could bankrupt Petrobras and while insurers may struggle cover the financial cost of any cleanup, no money could pay for the environmental, social and cultural damage inflicted, and little, if any, compensation would be paid for the economic impact on fishing, tourism and other sectors. The containment system eventually used for the Deepwater Horizon well cannot be deployed beyond 2,500 metres and the Raukumara Basin goes beyond 3,000 metres in many places. The blowout preventers in use today remain incapable of handling a well rupture of the force of the BP blast. The containment system developed by the industry to respond to another blowout has not been tested in real-life conditions and, by the industry’s own estimate, could still allow hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil to spew before a runaway well could be capped. Hekia Parata admitted under questioning from Green party members in Parliament that there are no assessments of environmental effects or risks contained in the permit and the safety record of Petrobras was never looked at by officials prior to granting the permit.

The corporate PR advisors (what the industry calls ‘communications counsellors’) are obviously being paid too much if that is all they’ve got!





Reality check…

7 04 2011

Whangaparāoa SH35

 

Opinion Piece: 7 April 2011

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The Gisborne Herald Editorial on 4 April needs a reality check.

Petrobras is not a good operator, they have been responsible and roundly criticised for numerous environmental disasters and human deaths in Brazil and further afield. They are a world leader in deep water drilling, which is increasingly desperate and dangerous given the scarcity of easy oil.

Just two weeks ago Petrobras was involved in a major incident in the Gulf of Mexico. Eight days after US regulators allowed Petrobras to start deep sea extraction one of the 8000-foot long production risers fell to the sea floor after the chain connecting it to its 130 ton buoyancy can failed. There are no reports of any hydrocarbon release at this stage, however Petrobras has not yet commented on the incident. So Petrobras have had a major incident before they even start the job!

Natural gas is not a ‘clean-burning fuel’, according to the US Energy Information Administration, worldwide the burning of natural gas (which is mostly methane) produces nearly 5 billion tons of CO2 each year, which is just behind oil and coal emissions.

The Petrobras permit is not just for gas, it includes oil as well. Hekia Parata’s spin is that it is now a ‘research’ permit – that ‘research’ requires the company to drill an exploratory well unless they run away from Cape Runaway at one of the two permit surrender milestones.

Petrobras has confirmed it will be based out of the Port of Tauranga, and talking to Coasties who have worked on rigs overseas and don’t want one here, I can’t see how it will create a single job for the Gisborne district.

Major gas finds are not going to lead to cheaper electricity in New Zealand. Any petroleum extracted would no longer be New Zealand owned, the government has very clearly said it would be taken by the multinationals to sell on the international market (or possibly taken back to Brazil in the case of Petrobras).

There are no effective ‘environmental protections’ for deep sea petroleum extraction, the new practice is experimental at best and the only way to guarantee a disaster does not happen is to not let them drill. As we have seen in the Gulf last week, where the review and strengthening of regulations has been second to none, deep sea drilling is simply too unpredictable. The Raukumara Basin has an average of three tremors per day and regularly has earthquakes over 5 on the Rhicter scale, it is twice as deep as the Deepwater Horizon well that blew out last year and Taranaki wells are in only 100-150m of water so they are no way comparable.

I’m not sure what the Editor bases his claim on that ‘a majority of New Zealanders hope Petrobras strike a major gas field of East Cape’. In a poll of over 12,000 people this week only 12% said they thought fossil fuels should be a government priority for our energy future.

New Zealand certainly has become a frontier for new exploration, and a frontier in the struggle of communities that rely on their local environment for survival against corporations who rely on exploiting anything they can for their survival. The wellbeing of our district should not be put on the auction block in the interests of foreign corporations.

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GH Editorial reply 7/4/11: http://gisborneherald.co.nz/opinion/editorial/?id=22178

 

 








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