Davis: Maori against drilling

By Mikaela Collins

Kelvin Davis
Kelvin Davis

A survey conducted by Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis which showed overwhelming Maori opposition to deep sea oil drilling was conducted after he struggled to gauge where Northland Maori stood on the issue.

Mr Davis sent out a survey with Christmas cards last November to all 32,000 people in the Te Tai Tokerau electorate asking what they thought about deep sea oil drilling.

Of the 32,000 people who were sent the survey 6032, or 18.3 per cent, responded by mid-January - 5199 saying they opposed deep sea oil drilling, 236 supporting it and 531 who said they needed more information on the topic before making a decision.

Norwegian company Statoil has been granted two licences to explore for oil in the Te Reinga Basin but no drilling has taken place yet.

"One reason I did the survey was because I didn't know where people in my electorate stood. A lot would turn up to hui and be angry and shout and others would say they wanted to have their say but they were kind of shouted down by others," Mr Davis said.

Mr Davis said deep sea oil drilling had been a "hot topic" in Northland recently and as Te Tai Tokerau MP it was important for him to know the opinion of Northland Maori.

"I'm not the MP of any other electorate," he said.

"You take into account this information when you make decisions so when this issue is raised I can clearly say, without hesitation, this is Tai Tokerau's perspective."

Mr Davis acknowledged it was not a "scientific survey" but said he was surprised by the results.

"I thought it'd be a lot closer, I would have thought there would have been more of those in favour. To some extent we are a bit hypocritical because we all love our vehicles and everyone has a four-wheel-drive, we all drive down the beach and go fishing," he said.

"But what people are saying is we need to find a different form of fuel and the risk of an oil spill off Northland was enough to warrant a vote opposing deep sea oil drilling."

He said ultimately people wanted to ensure the resources available to them now, were available to future generations.

- Northern Advocate

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