Protesters gather to oppose drilling

Last updated 05:00 27/11/2013
Oil Protesters
Phillipa Karn

OIL PROTEST: Waiheke Island residents gather at Matiatia on Saturday as part of a national beach protest against deep sea oil drilling by US oil giant Anadarko off the Raglan coast.

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"Who's Bob and why do you want him to go home?"

That was the question from a tourist in response to a Banners on the Beach protest by more than 100 residents at Matiatia at lunchtime on Saturday.

It was one of many being held on North Island west coast beaches to signal opposition to deep sea oil drilling ship Noble Bob Douglas being in waters off Raglan.

The ship is there to start exploratory drilling for Texan oil giant Anadarko.

"Go home Bob," yelled residents at Matiatia, waving their banners as they gathered on the beach at noon.

Resident Susi Newborn, responsible for founding Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior and its dove emblem, says the issue is not just about the potential environmental dangers of deep-sea drilling.

She believes people should be focusing on how to make the most of renewable energy and its potential for providing longterm jobs for New Zealanders as well as preventing profits from going away abroad.

"A very valuable fact that's been lost is although this oil might provide jobs in the short term the profits will go offshore.

"We're losing our valuable coastline to benefit the few when we could be investing in a sustainable future that could provide jobs long term.

"We could be at the forefront of that in New Zealand."

Meanwhile, Waiheke residents Daniel Mares, Henk Haazen and Bunny McDiarmid, who is Greenpeace NZ executive director are all in the thick of the action at sea.

Ms McDiarmid is skippering Daniel Mares' boat Vega, with former Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimmons aboard.

It is the only vessel from the six-boat Greenpeace protest flotilla that has breached government rules about not going within 500 metres of sea drilling operations.

Vega is sitting over the drill site and arrived there 10 days ago - eight days ahead of the Bob Douglas, according to Mr Mares.

He is now aboard Tiama, skippered by Henk Haazen. It is more than 500m away from the drilling site but in close and constant contact with those aboard Vega, which has so far been left alone.

"We haven't seen any sign of the navy. Bunny is talking on the radio to people on the Bob Douglas but they are not being very responsive. They are refusing to answer questions," Mr Mares said on Tuesday.

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