Protesters hit South Island beaches

03:12, Feb 16 2014
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LISTEN: Anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach. Shannon Gilmore and others covered in mock oil as part of the protest.
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NO DRILL NO SPILL: Anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach.
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PIER: Anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach.
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PROTEST: Anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach.
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OILING UP: Anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach. Noelani Velasquez helps Marcel Podstolski with his 'oil spill' look.
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COVERED: Deyvi Wilton, 12, got covered on mock oil to protest at the anti off-coast oil drilling protest at New Brighton Beach.

Thousands swarmed the South Island's east coast beaches yesterday to protest deep sea oil drilling in the Pegasus and Canterbury basins.

Oil giant Anadarko had permits for exploratory drilling and seismic surveying in blocks of the east coast of the South Island.

Anadarko owned a 25 per cent share in the Gulf of Mexico oil well, the explosion of which caused one of the largest oil spills the world had seen.

Oil protest
Oil protest

The biggest crowds were seen in Dunedin, Christchurch and Kaikoura.

In Christchurch, Deputy Mayor Vicki Buck lent her support to the cause and gave a rousing speech under the New Brighton Pier.

"This makes no sense to anyone except the Government and the oil companies," she said.

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"The environmental costs of an oil spill are devastating. Are we prepared to leave that risk mitigation up to oil companies?"

The Christchurch City Council had voiced its opposition to the drilling in the past.

Protest organiser Siana Fitzjohn said she was "stoked" with the turnout. 

Young and old had gathered for the protest with homemade banners, ukuleles and face paint. Some people were covered in fake oil made from molasses and cooking oil to demonstrate how oil stuck to wildlife.

Peaceful protests were also held in Akaroa, Motueka, and Bluff.

Buck urged all New Zealanders to continue to protest deep sea drilling. 

Banners on the Beach is organised by a coalition of local groups and Greenpeace.

Fairfax Media