Non-violent training aims to keep petroleum protests peaceful

GRANT MATTHEW

Protesters gather at Owae Marae, Waitara to take part in non-violent direct action training ahead of the people's climate rally and the New Zealand Petroleum Conference in New Plymouth.

Organisers of a protest group getting ready to gather outside a petroleum conference in New Plymouth are confident the protests will be peaceful.

And they organised nonviolent direct action training just to make sure.

The event was held at Owae Marae on Tuesday afternoon and about 200 people had registered, said Emily Bailey, spokeswoman for the coalition of groups involved in The People's Climate Rally, which aims to blockade the NZ Petroleum Conference at the TSB Showplace.  

Attendees at Owae Marae, Waitara taking part in the non-violent direct action training ahead of the people's climate ...
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Attendees at Owae Marae, Waitara taking part in the non-violent direct action training ahead of the people's climate rally in New Plymouth.

"It's training people how to protest without using violence and without using abusive language. Just to maintain our calm. Protests can be difficult situations and helping people to know how to respond if someone throws abuse at us and how to remain calm."

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The New Zealand Petroleum Conference runs from March 21 to 23 at the TSB Showplace.

Emily Bailey at Owae Marae, Waitara.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Emily Bailey at Owae Marae, Waitara.

More than 13 groups from around the country will be joining forces to protest.

Hateful verbal abuse, physical aggression and property damage won't be accepted, Bailey said.

"That's what were hoping, because it's not helpful. But we understand people are upset and they're angry, they're frustrated, so we'll see. But were going to try and keep things on track."

Karl Pearce at Owae Marae, Waitara, taking part in the non-violent direct action training ahead of the people's climate ...
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Karl Pearce at Owae Marae, Waitara, taking part in the non-violent direct action training ahead of the people's climate rally in New Plymouth on Wednesday.

Bailey wasn't sure how many protesters would turn up on Wednesday morning, but was expecting there to be a "few hundred".

"But you can never tell until the day."

On Wednesday and Thursday there will be two zones - the red zone, which is the protest area and the green zone - open from 8am until 5pm - which would have stalls, workshops, speakers and things for kids, she said.

"It should be a good couple of days. There are heaps of groups and more groups coming who are not officially part of the coalition."

Thursday is all about solutions, she said.

"So that's speakers and workshops at the Senior Citizens Hall. And at the Huatoki Plaza there will be electric cars and electric bikes, so people can have a look and ask questions."

Police asked the New Plymouth District Council to close off the road for safety reasons. The road closure would see Devon St West between Egmont St and Robe St, as well as King St between Egmont St and Queen St, shut off to road traffic from 6.30am on Wednesday March 22 until 5pm the next day. 

The Frack Off exhibition in New Plymouth will have speakers at 1pm and 7pm on Wednesday and Thursday.  At 1pm Wednesday Green MP Gareth Hughes will speak on renewable energy and who benefits and at 7pm Dr Terrence Loomis presents research on petroleum development and environmental conflict in New Zealand. 

 

 - Stuff

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