Accepting the PM’s challenge

One hikoi marcher has accepted the PM’s challenge about oil exploration.

A young Maori leader has accepted Prime Minister John Key’s challenge to go to Parliament to test his opposing views on deep sea drilling for oil.

Fears over exploratory mining punctuated events at Waitangi yesterday as politicians and activists walked on to Te Tii Marae on the eve of the annual celebrations.

Protesters provided the only controversy of the day, heckling Key as he entered the marae and throwing dead fish in his way as he left.

One of the hikoi marchers, Joel Bristow, a son-in-law of Labour MP Shane Jones, told Key and marae elders their concerns over what they saw as unsafe drilling equipment being used, a lack of benefit to local communities and a high risk of a spill.

But Key said they were misinformed and mining would be good for Northland and for local iwi.

Deep sea drilling is a hot topic in the Far North, with Norwegian oil giant Statoil recently awarded an offshore Northland block to explore. 

Key invited a representative of the protesters to Wellington to meet his ministers to try to prove their point.

‘‘If I am wrong and you are right, I will walk out and join that protest,” Key said.

However, if he was proved right, that person would have to take those findings back to the community.

Bristow said he accepted the challenge and would travel to Wellington with an open mind. ‘‘But the other reason why I agreed is because I believe in everything I’ve said and everything I’ve marched for”.

“We’ve done our research and we brought it here today and just as any other politician he’s very good at giving a response, not necessarily an answer. I also told him…. does he want to create historical celebrations or historical devastation?”

Well let’s hope he does have an open mind. Hopefully his his father-in-law will have a good word with him too.


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