Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Labour's Kelvin Davis advised against Standing Rock visit: 'If the boss said yes, I would have gone'

Labour MP Kelvin Davis wanted to go to North Dakota. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour MP Kelvin Davis wanted to go to North Dakota. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour MP Kelvin Davis asked his party's leadership for permission to travel to North Dakota to support "Standing Rock" protests but was told there was too much work to do at home.

The request comes after Maori All Blacks prop Kane Hames wrote "Standing Rock" on his arm when his team took on USA in Chicago over the weekend.

Protesters are fighting a new oil pipeline in Standing Rock, a Sioux Native American reservation in North Dakota. Activists say the pipeline could contaminate the tribe's water source.

Today, Davis said he had talked to the Labour leadership about travelling to the States to join protesters.

"I said it would be good to go to show we empathise with the situation over there. But it's just not to be.

"If the boss said yes, I would have gone, but we had the discussion and we looked at the pros and cons, and there were a whole heap of issues. I could see it myself, it's not really a good time to go.

"It is just too much to do here in Wellington before the end of the year. And I understand that. It is true, I don't have enough time in my electorate as it is, let alone going overseas for five or six days."

On Saturday about 60 people performed a haka on Gisborne's Waikanae Beach to show solidarity with the Sioux people.

Hollywood stars Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth have recently used social media to ask fans to sign a petition against the pipeline construction.

Hemsworth, who has been working with Kiwi Taika Waititi on Thor: Ragnarok, has shared photos of people at Standing Rock, and of himself and Waititi holding a "We Stand With Standing Rock" sign.

Standing with those who are fighting to protect their sacred land and water. #nodapl #waterislife #mniwiconi @taikawaititi I would also like to take this opportunity to raise something that has been bothering me for sometime. Last New Year's Eve I was at a "Lone Ranger" themed party where some of us, myself included, wore the traditional dress of First Nations people. I was stupidly unaware of the offence this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. I sincerely and unreservedly apologise to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action. I now appreciate that there is a great need for a deeper understanding of the complex and extensive issues facing indigenous communities. I hope that in highlighting my own ignorance I can help in some small way.

A photo posted by Chris Hemsworth (@chrishemsworth) on

Davis told media at Parliament that he empathised with all indigenous groups.

"And this is very relevant to us as indigenous people. We also have our own Standing Rock at Ihumatao up in Mangere, as well."

Fletcher Residential has won the right to build a huge new housing project next to the Otuataua Stonefields Reserve near Auckland Airport.

The 32ha site in Oruarangi Rd was gazetted in May 2014 as a Special Housing Area, allowing development to be fast-tracked under the Auckland Housing Accord.

But protesters at the nearby Makaurau Marae say the project would destroy one of the country's earliest sites of continuous Maori occupation.

The site contains at least two lava caves used as ancient burial grounds, although Fletcher says the caves would be put in reserves alongside the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve.

Fletcher was granted zoning changes in May to allow the project to proceed.

- NZ Herald

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