Greenpeace and an East Cape iwi will today challenge the legality of a permit granted to Brazilian oil giant Petrobras in a case that could have a far-reaching impact on oil exploration here.
The environmental group and Te Whanau a Apanui are challenging the permit on environmental and Treaty of Waitangi grounds. They will argue that the Government failed to fulfil its consultation obligations and to sufficiently consider the environmental impact of granting the drilling rights.
Greenpeace says if the judge finds in its favour it calls into question all other permits issued under the same regime.
Petrobras carried out a seismic survey in the permit area off the East Cape in 2011 and faced protests at sea by environmentalists and iwi representatives. At the weekend Petrobras said it had "behaved in accordance with the applicable laws and consistent with its obligations to the host Government".
Greenpeace says the oil industry must not be allowed to open up its last extreme frontiers in the Arctic or in the deep waters off New Zealand.