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Actor Lucy Lawless and six Greenpeace New Zealand activists are settling in for an overnight stay on board Arctic-bound drillship Noble Discoverer in the port of Taranaki.
The activists have set up camp on the top of the ship's 53 metre drilling tower.
"We are prepared to stay here as long as we can - every hour delay is an hour's less drilling in the Arctic'', said Lawless.
They are occupying the drill ship to prevent it departing on a 6,000 nautical mile journey from New Zealand to the Arctic, to start an exploratory oil drilling programme that threatens to devastate the Alaskan coastline.
Greenpeace said today's (Fri) action has captured international media attention with organisations, including The Washington Post, TMV, The BBC and the Associated Press interviewing Lawless.
Greenpeace also claims the action has already inspired 25,000 people worldwide to email Shell CEO asking him to drop plans to open up the Arctic to oil drilling.
Earlier in the evening police said they were no longer on board the Noble Discoverer.
Following a series of meetings with the owners of the ship and the port, police agreed to leave the protestors where they were.
Inspector Blair Telford said: "Although the protestors are breaking the law by being aboard the ship, they're in an isolated location on the ship which allows both the port and the ship to operate their normal business.
Police will continue to monitor the situation and will be ready to respond to any development or to the protestors coming down from the drilling tower.
"We've considered various options and we have the skills, capabilities and equipment to deal with all options. However safety remains paramount and we won't needlessly jeopardise the safety of our staff, the crew of the ship or the protestors,'' Mr Telford said.
Police say the ship's owners and the port are providing increased security at the port.