Press Release – Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fisheries Trust
Tauranga iwi, through the Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fisheries Trust, in conjunction with tangata whenua of Motiti Island have placed a rahui or ban around the area surrounding the astrolabe reef and the oil slick from the stricken ship Rena. This prohibits …News Release
For immediate release
October 8, 2011
Rahui Placed Around Oil Spill and Reef and On Collecting Seafood
Tauranga iwi, through the Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fisheries Trust, in conjunction with tangata whenua of Motiti Island have placed a rahui or ban around the area surrounding the astrolabe reef and the oil slick from the stricken ship Rena. This prohibits the collecting of kaimoana for consumption from the contaminated area.
The rahui will encompass all the area of contamination which will change as the oil spreads. However, caution is urged throughout Tauranga Moana for the duration of this crisis.
The 47,230 tonne Liberian-flagged container ship Rena ran aground about 12 nautical miles from Tauranga. It has 2000 containers on board and is holed in several places.
Tauranga Moana Iwi Customary Fisheries Trust Chairman and Ngai Te Rangi Iwi chief executive, Brian Dickson, said the rahui is a practical and cultural response to the growing problem.
Dickson said the rahui is to assist with preventing the oil reaching other parts of the marine and coastal ecosystem by alleviating the need for boats to enter the area of operations around the Rena and the oil slick. It is also to protect the health and safety of people working in the proximity.
“We understand people may want to see for themselves what is going on but rubbernecking is not helpful at the moment. Boats will collect oil as they move through the slick and then transfer that oil back to the harbour when they return potentially spreading the problem through secondary contamination.
“Shellfish are particularly sensitive to hydrocarbons and other pollutants so anything that can be done to restrict the movement of oil should be done. Boats returning to moorings, marinas and ramps are could bring contaminates to shellfish beds in the harbour.”
He said the rahui is being put in place to assist with restoration of the mauri of the ocean, which could be seen as the life force of the ocean and the integrity of the marine ecosystem.
Dickson said there are a lot of practical considerations such as keeping the seaways open so salvage vessels, oil skimmers and shore barges can get on with their job unhindered by marine traffic. The aim is to minimise danger, he said.
“Most importantly we want people’s health protected so they aren’t eating shellfish or pelagic or demersal fish from around the area until everyone is certain they are safe at which time the rahui will be lifted.”
Dickson said a rahui is not enforceable by authorities however in his experience both Maori and non-Maori tend to respect a rahui.
“The rahui has been applied in terms of our tikanga to minimise the adverse effects of this type of disaster.”
Brian Dickson said local iwi have a duty of care or kaitiakitanga over the marine environment and so it has been disappointing the Response Leadership Team has not included iwi as part of their group.
“We have asked to be at the decision-making table and been told no, which we don’t think is wise. However, we trust that situation will change in the near future and they will see the value in including matauranga Maori.”
He said iwi have been able to point out to those running operations which areas are particularly of interest by iwi to have protected.
“Those areas will be similar to the wider community; all offshore islands, particularly Tuhua/Mayor Island and Motiti Island and the Mauao Maitaitai Reserve; the harbour entrances and entrances to river and stream systems, and other shallow reefs such as Okaparu which is near the Astrolabe reef. We also have concerns about beaches and the harbour that are exposed.
“We have been fortunate with the wind direction so far, however, the forecast is for the wind to change to be coming from the north east which would drive the slick toward the beaches.”
Brian Dickson says it is important to keep iwi informed and to ensure those with kaitaiakitanga responsibilities are actually involved at the time when most needed.
“Otherwise all the assurances of integration of cultural requirements is shown to be a thin veneer rather than an actuality.”
He says now all effort must be focused on solving the immediate danger. After that, the assessments of the response will be done.