Positive action against drilling

20:26, Feb 05 2014
Nukuroa Tirikatene-Nash holds a surfboard with a message to oil giants while dolphins come to join the protest

A group of concerned people have been in training during the past few weeks, preparing for action at sea to make their feelings heard about seismic testing off the Kaikoura coast.

They have gone to sea regularly since deciding to make the stand and challenge the MV Duke, the seismic survey ship doing work for oil giant Anadarko.

Group spokesman Brett Cowan said it was important to let people know why they were doing so, and to point out that they were representing a much larger group of people.

Dolphins come to join the protest against deep-sea oil exploration

"We are not hardened activists, we are just normal Kiwis. We could be your next door neighbours . . . some are retired, some have businesses, some are religious, some are international. We represent different facets of society," he said. "We are family people first and it is really distressing that we have to reduce ourselves to this."

Mr Cowan said government railroading legislation permitting deep-sea drilling meant people did not have an equal platform, having not been included in any of the planning to this stage. This was why the group, along with many others nationwide, were prepared to enter into such action.

"It has all been decided at a high level so we are having our say. Before we know it there is going to be a major operation off our coast which could have dire consequences if something goes wrong. Whether you are for or against it, the risks are just not worth it."


No oil
Anti deep-sea oil protesters practising for an event where they plan to challenge Anadarko's seismic ship

The group comprises a number of different people who all had different reasons for concern, whether it be for the environment, marine life, fishing industry or something else, there was a common cause, he said.

There was now a group of people, residents and visitors, who were ready to go at a moment's notice, and had been trained up to do so.

"Why go through the rigmarole of seismic testing if the final outcome is that we will never agree to oil drilling?"

Mr Cowan said the group was cautious about using the word "protest", preferring to think of themselves as "pro-action". They wanted to preserve their lifestyle, he said, and were supported by many individuals along the coast.

"We don't share the Government's optimism that everything's going to be plain sailing. It is hard to be optimistic when you are faced with what would be one of the worst disasters the world would ever know."

He believed he represented the average Kiwi. He was not a scientist and did not need to know the science behind it, he simply believed that 5 per cent of the profit for 100 per cent of the risk was not a good trade.

Mr Cowan likened the situation to wearing a seatbelt in a car. He could drive down the road countless times without a seatbelt, he said, but it would only take one accident for it to be fatal.

While there were now laws in place to ensure people wore seatbelts, there was no safeguard against the potential for disaster from drilling out at sea. And this was not just one person at risk, it was hundreds of thousands of creatures, he said.

The Marlborough Express