A paper revealing the
Government is reviewing the possibility of oil exploration in
Fiordland is a "national disgrace", Green Party co-leader
Metiria Turei says.
The paper, by the Ministry of Economic Development and the
Department of Conservation and obtained under the Official
Information Act, proposed a review of protected Doc areas
with "significant mineral potential".
The areas listed for review in the paper included the
Coromandel Peninsula (precious metals), Kahurangi National
Park (precious and base metals), eastern Paparoa (coal) and
Waitutu is located in the southwest corner of Fiordland
"Considering mining in Fiordland is a national disgrace," Mrs
Turei, of Dunedin, said.
While the Government had signalled it was interested only in
"low-value areas", the report showed "they are keen to mine
our most precious parks".
The paper, dated July 22, foreshadowed a speech made by
Energy and Resources minister Gerry Brownlee at a mining
conference in Queenstown a month later.
In his speech, Mr Brownlee outlined plans for a strategic
mineral stocktake of conservation land.
The stocktake began last month.
Mr Brownlee yesterday dismissed claims the Government was
considering granting oil exploration in Fiordland National
Park as "hysterical".
"We are being very open."
Asked by the Otago Daily Times if he would rule out mining on
conservation land in the future, Mr Brownlee said the
situation was a "catch-22".
"I just can't for the life of me believe the Government will
drill for oil down there. We want to find out what is there."
Southland Mayor Frana Cardno was unequivocal when asked if
drilling should be allowed in Fiordland.
"No. Definitely not," she said.
"There are plenty of other areas that can be explored, but
Mrs Cardno said the park was declared a World Heritage Area
in 1986, and was a major tourist drawcard.
A report on the value of Fiordland National Park estimated it
contributed more than $220 million a year to the New Zealand
New Zealand-based exploration company L&M Petroleum has
an interest in the Waitutu area, with an offshore/onshore
permit to explore 2980sq km in the region.
Mrs Turei said Conservation Minister Tim Groser would not
rule out the possibility of the stocktake including popular
tourist destination Milford Sound.
The review of conservation land is expected to be completed
by the end of the month.
- The list of public conservation areas where mining access
is restricted is contained under Schedule Four of the Crown
Mineral Act 1991. Almost all national park land is listed
under schedule four.
- Waitutu is part of the Fiordland National Park and is home
to native forest and endangered birds, such as the kaka and
- Hector's dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, little blue and
Fiordland crested penguins, and occasionally whales can be
seen around the coast.
- The area is also home to the Hump Ridge Track, and the
world's largest surviving wooden viaduct, the Percy Burn
Source: Department of Conservation