Working with New Zealand's Māori during impact assessment process
In early 2014, Searcher Seismic Pty Ltd (Searcher), in cooperation with GNS Science, announced plans to acquire approximately 26,200 kilometers of two-dimensional seismic data of the hydrocarbon basins offshore New Zealand. Searcher engaged ERM to develop a Marine Mammal Impact Assessment (MMIA) for the seismic survey. As part of Phase 1 of the survey, which covered approximately 10,300 kilometers of the total survey area, ERM created and conducted a two-part engagement process to inform the MMIA. The process focused on gauging the particular concerns and harnessing the local knowledge of the indigenous Māori iwi (tribes) and hapu (sub-tribes).
The first part of the engagement process involved an initial meeting to introduce, explain and outline the project, as well as to identify culturally appropriate and mutually respectful methods for subsequent engagement. The second part included a follow-up meeting to present the MMIA findings and discuss specific concerns about the project. This approach went beyond the legislative requirements for iwi/hapu engagement. ERM and Searcher have since continued dialogue with the iwi/hapu and provided additional updates, aligning with the Māori relationship-based approach to engagements.
Through the engagement, Searcher and ERM have received great feedback on the process, both from Māori and from the regulators directly and indirectly involved in the process.