Tag Archives: Taranaki petrochemical development

The Ballad of Roading Steve

Another post about living in the Tikorangi Gaslands. Not plants and gardening but the other omnipresent aspect to our lives here.

 Three years ago, we were trying so hard to preserve something of old Tikorangi midst the ravages of petrochemical development. That included keeping the rural character of the roads and the immediate environment. Ha! We failed dismally, as witness these roadworks just past our place.

They are a reminder that staff at New Plymouth District Council were mostly just humouring us when they appeared to listen. Except for one memorable staffer who did not make any attempt to humour us. No sirree, he made it clear from the start that he was the boss-man and he did not need to be polite or listen to residents. What could we possibly know? He is not there anymore. He moved on some time ago. Or maybe he was shovelled out? The politer staff would nod and give a credible performance of listening attentively. But, as subsequent actions and policies show, they were not going to deviate from their chosen path.

And so this road *improvement* has gone ahead, no doubt at considerable expense. In vain did we plead for rural amenity to be preserved while meeting the roading needs of petrochemical development. Make no mistake about it. The whole purpose of this super-duper rural road is to service the petrochemical industry, not the locals. Sure, some locals will see a wider, faster, heavily cambered road as “progress”. They don’t care about being able to stand on the side of the road and have a chat to a passing neighbour. I bet they don’t get out of their cars long enough to ever want to walk along the road verge. Presumably they don’t have any children who might, in the past, have biked to school. I am also guessing that they have never lost any dogs to speeding traffic. All they want to do is to get in their vehicles and plant foot, to get to their destination as fast as possible. That is how they see the modern world of progress.

We are living with a soundtrack of constant machinery from 7am until dark, Monday to Saturday. It has been interesting to me for several reasons. It is like a little monument to our failure in trying to make any changes for the better. But I am not feeling blue. It reminds me how successfully I have drawn in my world, circled the wagons, to exclude what goes on beyond our boundaries. And I have coped with the constant noise with equanimity. Some level of mindfulness or just simple inner tranquillity can indeed create a protective cloak.

Roading Steve, the architect of these roadworks, has also gone from Council now. Moved on. But he left a legacy. The road WILL be wider, stronger and faster for this short stretch.

No matter that since those plans were being mooted, the speed limit here has been dropped by the very same council to 80km/h, slowing the traffic overall to a safer speed.

No matter that the petrochemical company has instigated a voluntary speed limit on its heavy transport of 60km/h on that very stretch of road.

No matter that the bottom has fallen out of the Taranaki oil and gas industry and it may never recover to the levels seen when Roading Steve thought this road *upgrade* looked like a good idea. Let us not forget that oil and gas is a twilight industry and public attitudes are changing to be less sympathetic.

Where the new road has to narrow to meet the old, down the dip and on an intersection

No matter that this bright, shiny, new bit of road will encourage traffic to speed up coming down the hill until it terminates on a relatively risky intersection and narrows to the old width to climb the hill outside our place.

The work must go on.  For such is the inexorable process of local body government. Once initiated, a project cannot, apparently, be stopped. And progress can be measured by wider, stronger roads to accommodate faster vehicles. For which we all pay through local and national taxes. It is why I have circled the wagons.

Our side of the hill remains untouched. For now.

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Lessons from the Tikorangi Gaslands

The genie is well and truly out of the bottle. Flaring on Mangahewa E site down the road. Photo: Fiona Clark

The genie is well and truly out of the bottle. Flaring on Mangahewa E site down the road. Photo: Fiona Clark

Never. Sign. Anything. No matter how careful you think you are being, you are signing away all your rights including future rights to things you may not even know are in the picture. We have signed two consents and have been badly burned on both. Ours is not an isolated story.

If you don’t sign, they will go ahead anyway if they possibly can. But at least you haven’t signed away what few rights you may have.

Being nice to a petrochemical company does not mean you will get a better deal. Better deals go to those who are the hardest negotiators. It is likely the reason why a petrochemical company insists you sign confidentiality agreements is because they do not want you comparing notes with your neighbours where you may well find they have negotiated a much better deal than you have. By way of example, when it comes to payments to farmers for the installation of gas pipelines across their land, a reliable source has told me he has seen agreements where the daily rate is four times higher than the base rate that is initially offered and accepted by most farmers.

Some may be grateful for a hamper containing Bluebird salt and vinegar chips and housebrand Pam's  Christmas mincemeat tarts

Some may be grateful for a hamper containing Bluebird salt and vinegar chips and housebrand Pam’s Christmas mincemeat tarts

Some people go all out for whatever compensation or sweeteners they can get – and sweeteners come in many forms starting with modest Christmas hampers. A few refuse to touch anything. Most will take the sweeteners but, because compensation is rarely offered, they are too polite to demand it. We have never been offered or asked for compensation. In the past we have accepted some minor sweeteners. Whether you want to go all out for whatever you can get, whether you want to accept, maybe even be grateful to the company for sweeteners or whether you prefer the chilly moral high ground of refusing all such offers is entirely personal choice.

Save your home baking for friends and family

Save your home baking for friends and family

Somehow it is more upsetting to be trampled by a petrochemical company when you have allowed their people into your house to talk to you. When the company man or men have sat at your dining room table on a number of occasions, drinking your coffee and eating your home baking, the sense of betrayal feels very personal indeed. I know some residents who will not let them past the doorstep and others who insist on meeting on neutral territory because they don’t want them on their property. I can certainly understand that last position now. These company representatives are not your friends and it is fine to suspend old fashioned rules of hospitality in this situation.

Keep records including notes of all interactions. Never delete emails. File all paperwork. Keep diary notes. You never know when you might need to refer to them. Do not make the mistake of assuming your emails to your *friendly* petrochemical company criticising Council will remain with that company. You may find them in your Official Information Act pack from Council, showing that the company has forwarded them on to the Council. I have.

When a company approaches you for your signed consent, never assume you are being told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. What you are told is likely to be well short of the whole truth. It will be best case scenario for you – but not the company whose best case scenario is very different. And nobody checks what they have told you to get your signature so if, in time, it proves to be inadequate or inaccurate, you have no recourse whatsoever. Because in signing, you signed away your rights.

The way things used to be

The way things used to be

"Just a single well. Probably."

“Just a single well. Probably.”

Or it could be a behemoth of a modern site

Or it could be a behemoth of a modern site

If a company leads you to believe that it will just be a little site – “you will hardly know we are there” one company is reported as saying – do not make the mistake of thinking you will get a little old-style site with a few pipes coming out of the ground and no noise or disruption. Modern sites are different, as evidenced by this behemoth of a site down the road from us and the even larger one on the farm next door. Check what they tell you against their applications for consent. Sometimes they are different. There is a big difference between “we are just going to drill one well” and their application for the full suite of eight wells plus production facilities, as one local family found.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that it will all be over when the holes are drilled. Oh no sirree. Not necessarily. Not at all. There is much ongoing work that will be done and with a big site, you can expect that frequent work to continue, we now find, for the lifetime of the site. But they won’t tell you that when they get you to sign.

Once in on a site, there is the potential for activities to escalate. Because of course they are already there so each small – or indeed large – increase in activity is just another building block on top what they have already laid. After all, in this industry it is impossible to plan ahead with any certainty and of course it is their right to escalate activities. They have invested all this money (for the good of the people, you understand, for private profit is never mentioned) and you signed away your rights back at the start.

Be prepared for the oft-repeated sneer from shallow thinking dumbos: “Well you drive a car, don’t you? You want us to go back to horse and cart? Hahaha.” This has nothing to do with fuelling our cars, even less so when it is gas, as it is in Tikorangi. Suitable replies may be: “I drink milk but I don’t think dirty dairying is okay,” or “I own a gun but it doesn’t mean I believe in war.” Glib, but parallel arguments. Derisory comments come from those who are either benefitting personally from petrochemical development or those who have no idea whatever how bad it can be for the residents living alongside the development.

Don’t expect your local councils to keep you informed. While they may and do have a great deal to do with the petrochemical companies and Their Processes allow them to assist the companies to repeatedly massage their resource consent applications until they fit the clipboard check list, these very same processes do not include keeping the most affected residents and ratepayers informed. At least not until the final decision has been made and it is too late for you to raise any concerns.

No matter how sympathetic some elected councillors may be, they cannot help you. The power base at local body bureaucracy level rests with the paid senior staff. The role of elected councillors is to be the public fall guys for staff actions and decisions and the sooner some new councillors realise this, the happier the organisation will be.

The Councils will assume that everything in the consent applications is complete and correct on the part of the companies and approve it accordingly. There is too little due diligence that I have seen. When you find out after the application has been signed off that it may not have been full and correct, it becomes a matter of personal pride for Council staff to defend their decisions. Catch 22 but no matter, the winners will be the companies.

You are on your own. There is nobody tasked with protecting the residents’ interests. You are just a small fry to be squishied as the Councils and the companies work “to get things right moving forward”.

Stress. Be prepared for considerable stress over a long period of time. I have heard the ongoing anxiety over company plans blamed for marriage breakups amongst residents. Who knows if this is the case, but I do know that the stress is protracted, genuine and very personal. And that stress is all your very own stress so if you feel your anxiety levels rising, you may need to look for help. It can take a year or two from when a company first comes a-knockin’ at your door to get all the consents in place and start the activity. They may drill one hole and then go away. But their consents are commonly for eight holes and they can come back repeatedly over the next two decades – longer for the earlier consents which don’t have an expiry date at all – and drill again. And again. Then they may apply for a variation to the consent to add more activity on the site. That stress ebbs and flows but it doesn’t go away and none of the official processes recognise the stress placed on residents. It drives some residents out but when moving is not an option, you just have to batten down the hatches and cope.

For all these reasons above, trying to work “within the system” is pretty much doomed to failure for the individual. Oh you may have some small victories to keep you happy along the way, but when it comes to the important issues that really matter, the system ensures that the powerful voices triumph.

Coming up soon: Toxic Transport and other delights from the Tikorangi Gaslands.

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Tikorangi Newsletter 2. August 30, 2013

Tikorangi-Butter-paperHi de hi, guys!

Welcome to our second issue of Tikorangi News. We at New Plymouth District Council take our responsibilities to keep residents informed very seriously.

???????????????????????????????• We know that Tikorangi residents were united in their opposition to the Kowhai C site but we have GOOD NEWS. We have halved the number of gas wells Greymouth Petroleum can drill on this site. They are only allowed to have four wells – to start with anyway. This is a win-win situation. They win. And in the future, if they apply for a variation to their consent, they will likely win again.

• We wish to reassure Tikorangi residents that there is NO TRUTH whatsoever in the rumour that Greymouth Petroleum plan to relocate their production station at Kowhai A to Kowhai C site. Not a skerrick of truth and Greymouth have warned their gossiping staff that loose lips sink ships.

• We at New Plymouth District Council want to tell Tikorangi residents that we are making wonderful progress on the voluntary Tikorangi Protocol. The success of this protocol can be measured by the fact that we have put a time limit on the Kowhai C site. It will be all over in 15 years. Unless subsequent council officers grant an extension of course. We can’t be blamed for what happens in the future. And if we need to progress the Protocol without residents being involved, you can rest assured that both Council staff and the companies have your best interests at heart. regular_smileregular_smile

• Finally on the new Kowhai C site, before we “move forward”, Greymouth Petroleum have assured us that they have talked to all the close neighbours to that site. That is, all the neighbours who matter. If you are a close neighbour (maybe even a very close neighbour) and the Greymouth team have not visited you then you just need to wake up and get real. You are not important. Move on. You cannot expect to stand in the way of progress. The same applies to Otaraua Hapu. If they want to be difficult and refuse to meet with the good folk at Greymouth Petroleum, that is their decision and we have no role at all to play in resolving this conflict. Ngati Rahiri’s signature is good enough for us.

IMG_0953 copy Greymouth on Road small• Greymouth Petroleum have asked us to assure residents that they have not forgotten their undertaking to NPDC councillors on June 11 that they will be setting up a blog, holding community meetings and sending out community newsletters to keep you folk informed. They have just been such busy little beavers that they haven’t had time to do it yet. However, they do want everybody to know that they are very, very sorry about the incident back on March 17 when one of their loads took out the power supply to Tikorangi. They assure us that this was a fully compliant load and they are sure that there were pilot vehicles. Somewhere. Of course we understand that little accidents can happen.

• We are a little concerned that some Tikorangi residents are afflicted by hallucinations. Greymouth Petroleum have checked all the GPS records on their vehicles and they have never, we repeat NEVER, used Tikorangi Rd between Ngatimaru and Inland North Roads as an alternative route for their Kowhai B site in 2013. The resident who reported a yellow GMP truck on that road at 2.50pm on March 21 was imagining things. Similarly, the resident who claims she was almost hit by a Greymouth heavy transport when exiting her driveway around 3.00pm on March 25 this year must have been drinking. The heavy load, accompanied by two pilot vehicles that passed along that road between 11.00 and 11.30am on June 25 had nothing whatever to do with Greymouth. Having dealt with all these false allegations, Greymouth have assured residents that they should “feel free to contact (their transport manager) at any time going forward”. We wouldn’t want to be going backward now, would we? sad_smile

• On a more cheerful note we have wonderful news of a new milestone. Little old Tikorangi is now knocking on the door of 13 well sites and when it all goes ahead, you could have the exciting prospect of maybe up to 95 individual wells in your area. Well done Tikorangi! Coming to a paddock near your cowshed soon, if you are lucky. Maybe a party will be in order when you hit the ton. Add in your pumping stations, the switching station and McKee and you have the round number of 20 different sites. This is pretty special, Tikorangi. And you hardly know they are there. Is this not a wonderful situation? At Council, we think it is. Of course, Greymouth have assured us that they are only going to drill one iddle widdle hole at each site and the surplus consented wells are only to “future proof” the company but we are pretty confident that they will drill more than that.
Trucks on raod by Tikorangi school • We have had positive reports that the large loads on your roads are a special attraction for the preschoolers in the area. And some dads, too. Isn’t it just so cute how the appeal of big rigs never fades? You can tell your littlies that there is plenty more to come so the excitement will continue.

???????????????????????????????• An innovative initiative is about to start as we want to teach Tikorangi residents that their roads are safe and that local children will be well looked after if they return to using the free school bus service. This will have the added benefit of reducing traffic on the roads if parents stop driving their children to school instead. “Keep left” will be the slogan. There is plenty of room in the drain for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Wear gumboots if it is raining. Just stay as far left as you can because some of these are very large vehicles and the bigger they are, the more important they are.
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???????????????????????????????• New Plymouth District councillors want us to tell you what a wonderful day they had on their tour visiting the companies and they thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality. They are sorry they couldn’t fit in the residents on this recent familiarisation tour, facilitated by Tikorangi’s very own elected representative, Cr Craig MacFarlane. But they were reassured by the companies that any negative impacts on residents are grossly exaggerated and claims of increasing industrialisation of your district are nothing but hyperbole. They saw this for themselves so that is good news. You will be reassured by this and no doubt you will all be voting to re-elect Cr MacFarlane in appreciation of his sterling efforts on your behalf. regular_smile

• Finally, our new complaints system at New Plymouth District Council is working really well. We have set up a new File 13 for all complaints, enquiries and calls on petrochemical matters. Don’t forget that if your complaint is regarding traffic, call the police, not us. It will save everybody time.

Kind regards from all of us at New Plymouth District Council. We are proud to be here to help you. regular_smileregular_smileregular_smile
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Click here to read the first edition of your Tikorangi News.

Tikorangi News

Tikorangi-Butter-paper

Welcome to the first edition of Tikorangi News which your council has undertaken to write in response to complaints from a few local residents that they don’t know what is happening in their district. At New Lympouth District Council, we take our duty to consult local residents very seriously and we hope this newsletter will fill the gap. We would like to thank the guardians of the old Tikorangi Dairy Factory for making their butter wrapper available to use as letterhead, reminding us of the semi rural nature of the area. regular_smile

036• We at Council are deeply aware that traffic is a major issue for many Tikorangi residents but we have AWESOME news. We have brokered an arrangement between companies, their subcontractors and Tikorangi School. Starting next week, the trucks will be calling in to the school where the students will be painting happy faces on all the vehicles. We are confident that smiley faces will bring a smile to all Tikorangi residents as the trucks pass by. Drivers have also been instructed to give a cheery wave as they pass. regular_smile regular_smile regular_smile

• Graymooth Petroleum have told us that they are very, very sorry that their drilling rig on Kowhai B allegedly broke their consented noise levels on one occasion and they promise they are doing all they can to remedy this situation. We are confident that this is the case because they even returned our wet bus ticket to us. The good news is that they have nearly finished this well and may shortly be moving their rig to the Stratford area which means it will no longer be our concern. sad_smile

???????????????????????????????• Tikorangi residents will be as thrilled as Council is that the Len Lye Centre has been given the green light. It is only because of Toad Energy’s wonderful generosity that this project is going ahead. In recognition of the special relationship between Toad and Tikorangi, residents will be guaranteed free entry to the new centre when it opens for a period of five years. regular_smile
???????????????????????????????• A few residents have suggested that Greymooth are not abiding by their declared number of light vehicles on their Kowhai B site. We are pleased to report that Greymooth have assured us that they are abiding by all conditions of their consent. We suggest that busybody residents who have counted up to 17 light vehicles parked in the two carparks at the same time should perhaps find something better to do with their time and get a real job. There are only six light vehicles a day travelling to the Kowhai B site. Similarly, Toad have assured us that they too are keeping strictly to the terms of their consent and there are only 8 light vehicles and 3 heavy vehicles driving on to their Mangahewa C site in any 24 hour period during drilling activities.

???????????????????????????????regular_smileThe next edition of the Tikorangi News will be called the Todger News after your council successfully negotiated a sponsorship deal with both Toad Energy and Greymooth Petroleum. This is good news because it means the special needs of Tikorangi will no longer be a drain on the other ratepayers of the district.

• Residents are reminded that they are best to contact the company concerned in the first instance when they have worries. This cuts out the middle man and companies can let us know what queries they have logged. We recently requested the logs from both Toad and Greymooth and were thrilled at the positive entries.
“Thanks so much for our awesome new road. Now we can speed down it at 120km an hour” said one Tikorangi East Road resident (Good news, Otaraoa Rd people. Roadworks will be starting in your area soon!)
“ Thanks guys for the generous gift of a hamper. My wife and I loved it. Now we no longer notice the sound of your generators and drilling rig at night.”
“Don’t take any notice of the carpers and moaners, guys. These few greenies are probably the same types who spend their time buggerising around on Facebook and besmirching the reputation of NLDC. We think you’re great. I will be back at work next week, by the way.”
It was wonderful to read so many positive comments and to know that the companies are taking such good care of you all. ???????????????????????????????

• On a more serious note, Council is reducing the affected party zone for new sites to those people whose residences are 20 metres or less from the site. This brings it in line with the notional boundary ruling in the District Scheme where noise levels are monitored at a distance of 20 metres from the nearest neighbouring houses. Effects from this change should be less than minor and no parties will be adversely affected. The rural character of the area will not be changed by this minor amendment.

• Big thanks go to both companies and their active programme of retro fitting double glazing in houses where the owners do not even have affected party status. This is a wonderfully generous move on their part and one which they are under no obligation to make. regular_smile

???????????????????????????????cry_smile We are acting on concerns raised by an elected councillor at a recent Council meeting regarding malcontents in Tikorangi “besmirching the reputation of the Council”. He suggested a public education programme might be required. Council categorically rejects any insinuation that this may be a case of shooting the messenger and is investigating models of re-education programmes pioneered in the Soviet gulags, the Chinese re-education through labour programmes and the Vietnamese voluntary relocation strategies of the 1970s. We are confident that any troublemaking dissidents in Tikorangi can and will be dealt with promptly and efficiently and will no longer be able to embarrass your council and to sully the reputation of Taranaki.

• Finally, in response to community concerns, we at New Lympouth District Council can assure Tikorangi residents that as far as disruption as a result of the petrochemical industry is concerned, we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to find where the buck stops. We think it may be with central government but we are mindful it may even be international – maybe WTO or OPEC.

• Kia kaha Tikorangi! And remember, you drive a car so you can’t complain. regular_smile

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No problems with petrochem development in Taranaki????

Don't worry. No probs here in Taranaki. Apparently.

Don’t worry. No probs here in Taranaki. Apparently.

It has been an interesting week with the Petroleum Summit in Wellington. Lesser folk have conferences, but this was, apparently, a summit. Interesting snippets were reported. Alarming snippets, even.

1) Minister of Energy, Phil Heatley, was reported as saying of protesters at the summit: “They will have arrived in cars and buses like everyone else and they are extreme”. “They are not really New Zealand. They have concerns but they are not really middle-class New Zealand”. “Protesters are against everything so don’t worry about them too much.”

The subtext might well be: “Our government only represents the middle class voter. These people aren’t going to vote for us so who cares about them?” It is such a breathtakingly naive statement that it must reflect his thinking.

But oh, we do get so irritated by that old chestnut of a simplistic argument: “You drive a car so you are a hypocrite if you ever complain. Lie back and think of Mother England and let the companies do what they wish.” As my partner says, he owns a gun but that doesn’t mean he thinks war is a good thing. The Minister reinforces the view that you are either with the companies – ergo progressive – or you are The Enemy. There is middle ground. It is possible to be critical of some of the companies’ practices without being opposed to oil and gas extraction in its entirety.

2) Still with our man at the Beehive, Minister Heatley assured the petrochemical delegates: “We like you. National likes you and we like what you do and we very much like what you do in Taranaki for the last 100 years, pretty much under the radar, with really no problem.” Right-o then. No probs. (Both those quotes from the Taranaki Daily News, Sept 20).

3) Mr Heatley’s government minions appear to be taking the same line. One Nick Hallett (chief adviser in the resources policy unit of the business, innovation and employment ministry – no capital letters used in the Dom Post where this was reported on Sept 20) is reported as saying that a way of convincing the wider country might be “getting Taranaki to go and speak to other Councils”. Best take care, Mr Hallett, that you chose the Right People from Taranaki to carry out that particular task. I can recommend just the person to do that job – ref point 6. You certainly may not be wanting to send any of the concerned lawyers who appear to be alarmed at the changing nature of contracts.

4) The Stratford Press of September 12 had an interesting article. A meeting of eight Taranaki law firms was convened to discuss concerns at some of the contracts they were seeing their landowner clients signing. “Once the agreement is signed, it is signed,” Mr Philip Armistead from Thomson, O’Neil & Co is quoted as saying, sounding a warning that the potential impact of not understanding what is being signed could be huge. “I have seen agreements where, for laying pipelines, access is also granted to land other than where the pipeline is being laid; some clauses in access agreements provide consent for other associated activities forever; and some limits the companies’ liability should something go wrong.” It used to be that a Federated Farmers contract was used as the basis for access but now there is an escalating trend for oil and gas companies to push their own agreements which are written to favour the company.

5) Board member for NZ Oil and Gas, Paul Foley, has no doubts that there needs to be better public relations for the petrochem industry to counterbalance the increasing levels of scrutiny and protest and, if the Dom Post reported him correctly on September 20, he knows who should be responsible for that PR push – the Government! In other words, the taxpayer should pay for PR to make the public more sympathetic, to discredit any objections and to force locals to grin and bear it.

6) Arguably the most outrageous of all were the comments to the summit by the CEO of Taranaki Regional Council, Basil Chamberlain, as reported in the Taranaki Daily News on September 20. He heads the body that is tasked with monitoring the petrochemical activities in Taranaki. He was apparently a “popular” speaker. I am sure he was, if the reporting was even halfway accurate. “In his address, Mr Chamberlain said oil and gas had a 150-year history here but was still seen as a ‘visitor’ in contrast to agriculture which had ‘full citizenship status’. ‘This status needs to change,’ he said”.

“In short, putting greenhouse gas emissions arguably aside, at this regional scale, across land, fresh water, air or coastal resources, the industry has negligible adverse impacts,” Mr Chamberlain is reported as saying.

Where does one even start? Probably with the breathtaking inappropriateness of the CEO of the monitoring body taking on a role of strong advocate for and supporter of the very companies his organisation is meant to be monitoring. Surely, the Taranaki Regional Council should be seen to be neutral on the matter? This is not the first time Mr Chamberlain has spoken out in support of the industry in Taranaki.

It is of course wilfully brazen to compare major companies, many with a strong multinational holding, to the traditional activity of family farming. Chalk and cheese come to mind.

7) How wonderfully ironic that the very same paper that lead its front page with Mr Chamberlain’s comments also ran a story on page 3 that very same day. There is a bit of a problem with contaminated soil at a Kapuni well site which has had to be trucked out of the province for specialist disposal. “Cleanup of the long-standing contamination at Kapuni well sites started with soil containing hydrocarbons and metals from fluids produced from the KA2 well site,” the paper tells us. It appears that this is the first of four sites to be cleaned up with reasonable urgency. “In the past, fluids from well operations were intermittently released into pits …. (which were) unlined… common industry practice at the time.” These days steel tanks are used, but one wonders how much residue is sitting round on old sites. It is not a comforting thought. But Mr Chamberlain (ref point 6 above) has told the industry that adverse effects are negligible so obviously nobody needs to worry. And Mr Heatley, (ref point 2 above) says there is really no problem.

And still, the local residents get ignored. Taranaki Regional Council certainly doesn’t care about them, even though they are ratepayers. And this National Government doesn’t give a toss either, if Mr Heatley’s comments are any indication. We are just part of the “negligible adverse impacts”.

I can’t be middle class after all. Not according to Mr Heatley. Clearly I’m not really a New Zealander either. In fact I don’t count at all because I am not such a fan of what is happening around me.