Paekak. does its bit in nationwide protests against deeepsea drilling offshore
By Alan Tristram
This group turned out at Paekakariki Beach on the Kapiti Coast yesterday as huge crowds gathered at more than 45 West Coast beaches across the North Island to oppose offshore oil drilling.
The protests started yesterday,continued today, and included protests on the east coast and in the South Island, protest organiser Greenpeace says.
Protesters have been voicing opposition to plans to drill New Zealand’s deepest exploratory oil well.
In the South Island today, placard-wielding residents have gathered at New Brighton beach in Christchurch.
About 50 protesters assembled at New Brighton pier at 1pm today to oppose Texas oil giant Anadarko’s presence off the coast of Raglan, where an exploratory oil well will be drilled in 1500 metres of water this month.
Green MP Gareth Hughes spoke to protesters, outlining his concerns about the drilling.
The protests came as the drilling company,Anadarko, said it would most likely begin drilling at the well — in 1500 metres of water and located 204 kilometres off Raglan — in the near future.
The plans have ignited fury from environmental groups who say drilling puts New Zealand’s coastal communities at risk of a devastating oil spill.
The largest crowd was at Piha, where over 1000 gathered with banners — and a group performed a haka.
Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel said the huge turnout sent a strong message to the Government.
“Kiwis have drawn a line in the sand saying quite clearly they don’t want deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters.” he said.
While activists protested on the sea shore, a group of protest boats were continuing to circle the Texan oil exploration ship the Noble Bob Douglas at the drill site.
A flotilla of six boats was protesting, but only Greenpeace boat the SV Vega has breached a 500 metre exclusion zone.
Police said they were monitoring the situation but were yet to take any action.
Earlier this week, the skipper of the Vega reprehended the ‘dangerous’ tactics of an Anadarko drilling ship and its support vessel, after it was almost ‘squashed’ between them.