A group angry at the Government’s decision to allow oil exploration in the habitat of the endangered Maui’s dolphin are set to picket outside Tauranga MP Simon Bridges’ office this weekend.
Rotorua electorate candidate for Labour Tamati Coffey is leading the protest outside Simon Bridges’ Tauranga offices.
Organised by Labour candidate for Rotorua, Tamati Coffey, this Saturday protesters plan to present the Minister of Energy and Resources with a letter from concerned Kiwis seeking immediate action to ban exploration.
The protest comes after it was revealed the Government opened more than 3000km of the Maui dolphin’s habitat, the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary, up for oil and gas exploration.
Tamati believes the issue transcends politics, striking at the very core of old fashioned Kiwi values.
"There are 55 of Maui dolphins in the world and they live within our waters,” says Tamati.
“If their situation isn’t remedied immediately, soon enough we are going to be part of the generation that allowed their extinction.”
A report released by the International Whaling Commission recently urged the NZ Government to do more to protect the world’s smallest and rarest dolphin population.
Already this week the number of individual Kiwis who signed Greenpeace’s "Sack Simon" petition has climbed to more than 23,000.
Greenpeace spokesperson Michael Tritt says there are more people are calling to sack Simon than the 21,971 who voted for him to win the Tauranga seat in 2011.
"This attack on the last 55 remaining Maui dolphin follows previous moves by Bridges to act on behalf of the fossil fuel industry at all costs," says Michael.
Speaking to SunLive today, Simon says it is everybody’s right to protest, but feels they have got the wrong end of the stick.
“There is a negligible risk to Maui’s dolphin from petroleum activity. The area they are concerned about has had petroleum activity for over 40 years and despite a huge amount of work to identify issues there hasn’t been a single incident where petroleum has interfered with the dolphin,” says Simon.
“When you have got a $3billion a year industry in Taranaki that supports many thousands of jobs there it would be lunacy to shut it down on the basis of exceptionally small risks that hasn’t caused any known problems.”
The latest political attack comes after Simon admitted in April he was not aware New Zealand’s largest forest park - the 200,000 hectare Victoria Forest Park in Greymouth – was part of …offered up for possible drilling and mining.
"His reckless agenda is increasingly out of step with New Zealanders’ desire to protect their land, water and native species, and to act on climate change. John Key must sack him now,” says Michael.
Tamati says the protest is not about politics, but New Zealanders standing up for Kiwi values.
“The mauling of Maui’s dolphins for money ahead of the environment isn’t one of them.”
There will be several speakers, as well as a peaceful march from The Strand starting at 10am on Saturday. People wishing to join are to meet at 9.30am at the centre of Devonport Road.