Permission For Rocket Lab Staff To Leave Auckland Questioned By Māhia Residents

Saturday, 6 November 2021, 6:58 am
Press Release: Auckland Peace Action

Local residents near Māhia are alarmed that a convoy of Rocket Lab staff intend to breach Level 3 this weekend with Government permission, traveling in campervans to the COVID-free area of Māhia. Locals had the news confirmed via email from Rocket Lab staff based at its Auckland headquarters.

In light of the Covid announcement from Hauora Tairawhiti this evening, Māhia and Wairoa residents are demanding that Rocket Lab staff be barred entry from the area and remain in Auckland.

This risk to the community was not publicly announced by Rocket Lab. Questions are being asked about how and why Rocket Lab staff became “essential workers” after previously not being recognised as essential.

“This risk is unacceptable. Launching satellites for the US military is not an essential service for Aotearoa New Zealand, and is not in our country’s interests” said Eliana Darroch of Auckland Peace Action.

“Rocket Lab staff should not be given travel or essential worker exemptions, and given the recent condemnation of Rocket Lab’s US military launches by the Government’s own watchdog on nuclear weapons, these scheduled Black Sky launches should be halted until a proper enquiry about breaches of our Nuclear Free Law by the Government is completed.”

One local, Dr Murray Olsen, a retired physicist, expressed his outrage and frustration saying “The US must have instructed New Zealand that they were to be considered essential workers. Or maybe Stuart Nash doesn’t need to be instructed?”

Puti Moa of Rongomaiwahine iwi said that locals feel abandoned and trampled on, and that the people of the area need to stand up to Rocket Lab.

Locals have heard from local sources that about 20 Rocket Lab staff in Auckland risk bringing COVID to the East as they intend to drive in a convoy of caravans to the launch site on Māori land at the southern end of the Māhia peninsular.

“It is a betrayal to his local constituency for Stuart Nash to give permission for yet another US military contractor launch, and he also endangers the health of all the people of Hawkes Bay if a convoy of Auckland Rocket Lab staff invades the area” said Dr Murray Olsen

In an email response to the concerns raised by Puti Moa, Rocket Lab said that the staff from Auckland would not mix with the staff usually around the launch base. This is not reassuring local residents, as COVID is such a dangerous and transmissible virus.

People of Māhia opposed to military space rockets being launched from their whenua and near wāhi tapu (sacred sites) have this added insult of Rocket Lab staff from Auckland saying they will live in campervans occupying the land for the upcoming two weeks or longer. This prevents tangata whenua access of their sacred and ancestral sites, and from fishing or gathering of kaimoana in the exclusion zone around the launch site.

A two-week launch window for Rocket Lab’s 22nd Electron launch will open November 11-24, 2021, while the 23rd Electron mission is targeted for lift-off during a two-week launch window that opens November 27. Both missions are scheduled to launch from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 according to a recent news story in Business Wire.

“This Labour Government is failing the integrity test, in breaking its own rules for US owned and US military backed Rocket Lab” Ms Darroch said “From information released from Minister Hipkins we know that in the past 12 months to September, 14 Rocket Lab staff were given spaces in Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) facilities, despite not being eligible under the Ministries own requirements for group allocations.”

“The New Zealand Government is bending over backward for US Military Rocket Lab, against the interests of the people of New Zealand” Darroch said.

Mahia resident Puti Moa said “we have whanau desperate to see be by one another and those tyrants get to do as they please”

Locals found the Government’s protocols around covid restrictions disingenuous, despite the health risks, boundaries and restrictions, allowances seem to have been made for Rocket Lab.

“The Government has limited what the people can do, but Rocket Lab gets to do business as usual? There’s nothing essential about Rocket Lab” said Dr Murray Olsen

“Locals have expressed distrust of the Government due to Rocket Lab getting special treatment” said Dr Olsen.

“I can’t believe Rocket Lab get travel exemptions, while our people in Māhia can’t get the health treatments they need, as Auckland health specialists are not allowed to travel” said Lis Battes, a local resident married to a shareholder of the Māori land that Rocket Lab launches from.

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