Teens lead charge to protect oceans

The ocean is Indigo Lavett's favourite place.

But, the swimmer and surfer, 14, worries environmental threats, including those posed by deep sea oil drilling, could deprive future generations of the opportunities she enjoys.

"I want my kids to have the same love for the river and ocean that I have."

GET THE MESSAGE:  Protesters line up at Tahunanui Beach to make their point against deep sea oil drilling.
GET THE MESSAGE: Protesters line up at Tahunanui Beach to make their point against deep sea oil drilling.

Indigo addressed the crowd at the Banners on the Beach protest in Nelson on Saturday.

In a speech that drew applause, she said the ocean and its creatures needed protection and New Zealand needed to show leadership to the world on the issue.

"It affects all of us," she said. "We need to make a stand."

Indigo is a member of the Nelson Youth Climate Action group. Fellow member Toni Scorringe, 16, covered herself in a concoction of cocoa, cooking oil and molasses to illustrate the threat posed by an oil spill.

About 150 people held hands on Tahunanui Beach while others held banners opposing deep sea oil drilling.

Jacqueline Gibson held a banner that said: "I'm not a hypocrite, I'm a recovering oil addict. I'm doing it for my son."

Ms Gibson said online commentators on previous stories about such protests had criticised protesters as hypocrites for driving to protests and for using other products derived from oil.

But she said critics were just looking for an easy way to shut down the subject. If protesters biked or walked everywhere they would be called "feral hippies" and critics would not listen.

They lived in a world where most people were dependent on oil and fossil fuels, and it was "bonkers" to be dependent on something that would hurt future generations.

Protesters needed to function in the oil-dependent world, but speaking out and acknowledging it could not continue and wanting an alternative did not make them hypocrites.

Clean Energy Action spokeswoman Verena Maeder was pleased with the turnout, especially as several other events were on in Nelson.

The protesters were standing in solidarity with other protests in the South Island on Saturday to stop deep sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters.

"We want to build a people-powered movement that will take New Zealand beyond fossil fuels," Ms Maeder said.

"We want to get people excited about rising up to this challenge because we know that New Zealand could totally kick ass.

"If we were to develop our clean technologies and our renewable energy resources instead of chasing risky deep sea oil, we one day could look our children and grandchildren in the eye and proudly say: ‘We did the right thing. We were part of the solution to climate change, instead of making things worse. We chose to be leaders once more'."

She said the Stop Deep Sea Oil campaign had gained traction this summer, with people across the generations and from varying backgrounds raising awareness about the issue.

This week a flotilla went out from Dunedin to meet Anadarko's drill ship, and protesters in Kaikoura got in the water to oppose seismic testing.

She thanked protesters for turning up.

"I hope you are inspired to keep building this movement and help make history like when New Zealand went nuclear free."