A clear message was sent to Texas oil company Anadarko on
Saturday as more than 600 impassioned environmentalists
gathered on coastal Otago beaches to protest against deep-sea
Hundreds of people at St Clair Beach in Dunedin on Saturday
protest against deep-sea drilling. Photo by Craig Baxter.
A crucified albatross, dozens of banners and a rousing
haka were used by hundreds of protesters lining Dunedin's St
Clair Beach to show they were united in their opposition.
The initial gathering of about 300 protesters swelled to more
than 500, Oil Free Otago representatives said.
A passerby asked protesters if they had driven vehicles to
the beach, and called them hypocrites when they said yes.
The protesters chanted, blew bubbles and booed a plane flying
the message ''pro gas 4 drilling'' overhead.
Volunteers collected signatures for a Green Party petition
against deep-sea drilling, and fish and chips were served en
masse for lunch.
There were calls for the Government to invest in ''clean and
green'' energy, and to keep New Zealand's pristine reputation
The protest was one of many organised simultaneously
throughout the South Island on Saturday, as part of
Greenpeace's Banners on the Beach campaign.
About 60 protesters at Friendly Bay, in Oamaru, argued
deep-sea drilling for oil off the Otago coast would merely
prolong a ''dying culture''.
Protest organiser Robyn Pickens hoped the ''community
inspired'' group's protest would inform people of the risks
of deep-sea drilling.
The large separation between mechanical controls on the
surface and drilling mechanisms on the ocean floor meant
there could still be a ''blow-out'' that could spill oil.
University of Otago physics Associate Professor Bob Lloyd
shared similar sentiments with about 60 protesters gathered
at Moeraki Beach.
He said oil use was ''short-term gain for long-term pain''
and believed people had about 20 years to stop all carbon
going into the atmosphere before the increase in temperatures
would become irreversible.
However, he said it was not feasible to stop all carbon use
tomorrow. The transition away from carbon would be an
enormous task and public support would have to be greater to
get New Zealand away from oil dependency, he said.
He believed 2000 protesters would be needed at Moeraki,
10,000 at Dunedin and 100,000 at an Auckland protest to make
an impact on decision making.