The relationship between Ngai Tahu and the Dunedin City
Council is ''blossoming by the day'', as their respective
leaders discuss regional economic development, including the
benefits and risks of offshore oil and gas exploration.
Last year, the iwi was confirmed as backer of a $20 million
student hostel to be built for Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin.
The council, which sold Ngai Tahu Property the land for $2
million, was continuing to involve local runanga and the
wider iwi ''more and more'', Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said.
''Our relationship with Ngai Tahu at a runanga level and an
iwi level is very good and blossoming by the day,'' he said.
He confirmed that talks were also continuing around
investment in social housing.
''Ngai Tahu, at a corporate level and a property level, have
made it clear they are interested in investing more widely in
their rohe [tribal land],'' he said.
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Sir Mark Solomon told
the Otago Daily Times Ngai Tahu considered economic
development for Ngai Tahu communities was important.
''Relationships take time ... it takes time to understand
With Texas-based oil giant Anadarko set to drill off the
coast of the South Island, Sir Mark said: ''We do not believe
this nation has the capacity to deal with a major oil
However, he stressed that while Ngai Tahu would make
submissions at an iwi level, ''we leave it to our
His own Kaikoura runanga was concerned about the depths of
drilling off their coast, and how this could potentially
impact on an area known for whale-watching tourism.
''We just don't have the infrastructure or capacity [to deal
with an oil spill]. To us, it is taking a risk we can't
While there had been good consultation from the exploration
companies and the Government, ''from my perspective there
seems to be a disjointed approach between the Government
agencies dealing with oil and gas''.
He remained concerned about the potential impact for
Kaikoura, and so questioned agencies on the decibel level of
seismic charges used in exploration. And the answer: ''They
couldn't tell me. They didn't know.''
In comparison, Anadarko had been forthcoming with any
''And again our issue is not with Anadarko. Our issue is with
the Government. We don't have the policy or the capacity.''
He also expressed concern with Energy and Resources Minister
Simon Bridges for not attending meetings.
Mr Cull agreed with Sir Mark that the Government should be
doing more to alleviate exploration concerns.
In addition, he called for some of the exploration royalties
to be set aside for regional economic development and risk