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Opposition to coal in New Zealand

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This article is part of the collection of articles on coal projects in New Zealand, which has been developed in conjunction with Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA). See CANA's Twitter feed and Facebook page. For information on how to get involved in adding material to CoalSwarm see here.

This article is part of the CoalSwarm coverage of New Zealand and coal.
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Citizen protests against coal in New Zealand

Sexy Coal with Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm.

July 5, 2010: largest protest in country's history against coal mine

Organized by Greenpeace, a protest against an open-pit coal mine in an area described as "prime conservation land". In an effort to stop the mine, Lucy Lawless, known for her role as Xena the Warrior Princess, teamed up with Robyn Malcolm, a popular television and theater actress in New Zealand, to call the decision to open the mine “19th century thinking in a carbon-constrained world”. The duo, along with Greenpace, created a video of tourist reactions to the proposal in one of New Zealand’s parks, mocking prime minister John Key who called coal “sexy”.

Greenpeace estimated that on July 5, 2010, 50,000 people marched in opposition in the city of Auckland. Robyn Malcolm on the day of the protest said, "For nearly 50,000 Kiwis to turn out and be prepared to speak with one voice, must tell the Government something. And that something is this: we, the people of New Zealand get it; we get the argument, we see what you’re up to and we won’t have it. Our land will always be more important to our identity than some extra dollars in the pockets of mining companies.”[1]

The National Government is likely to back down from proposed plans to mine in National Parks according to a 3 News report: “There will be no mining in Paparoa National park, no mining in the Coromandel, no mining on Great Barrier Island and no mining in any National Parks either now or in the future. There will be a legislative change introduced that will mean any crown land that becomes a national park will automatically be put into Schedule 4 and protected from mining.”

July 20, 2010: Citizens halt mine development

Citizen power in New Zealand forced the government to scrap a controversial mining resolution in July 2010 that would have allowed coal prospecting in pristine areas of the country, most notably on Great Barrier Island, the Coromandel Peninsula and in Paparoa National Park, including an open pit mine that would have been the largest in the country. Thousands of people protested the plan that was seen as widely unpopular throughout New Zealand.

Environmental Defense Society chairman Gary Taylor said mining would have clashed with the country's "clean, green brand and image".[2]

Non-violent Direct Action Against Coal

Save Happy Valley Coalition activists occupy the headquarters of Solid Energy in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Mar. 6, 2006.

Mar. 6, 2005: Save Happy Valley Coalition occupation of Solid Energy headquarters

On March 6, 2005, four Save Happy Valley Coalition activists locked down at the corporate headquarters of Solid Energy in Christchurch, New Zealand, in protest of Solid Energy's plans to build a coal mine in Happy Valley. Supporters hung banners and pitched tents on Solid Energy's property. The occupation came one day after Solid Energy sued three activists for defamation.[3]

Three Save Happy Valley Coalition activists blockade coal train tracks in New Zealand - two are attached to the tracks, while the third is hanging from a tree 100 feet in the air, attached to a support rope that is tied to the tracks.

Aug. 13, 2005: Save Happy Valley Coalition coal train blockade

On August 13, 2005, a group of 25 Save Happy Valley Coalition activists and allies blockaded train tracks leading from Solid Energy's coal mines to the port of Lyttelton, New Zealand, in protest of Solid Energy's plans to build a coal mine in Happy Valley. Two people locked themselves to the tracks, while a third suspended himself from a tree 100 feet in the air, attached to a support rope that was tied to the tracks. Four Solid Energy trains stood on the tracks for five hours, while police cleared the blockade; the company claimed in court that the blockade cost them $150,000. The three blockaders were arrested.[4][5]

Articles and Resources

References

  1. "New Zealand’s biggest protest march in living memory" Greenpeace Southeast Asia, May 1, 2010.
  2. "People power forces Govt u-turn on mining" Adam Bennet, New Zealand Herald, July 20, 2010.
  3. Anti-Coal Protestors Lock On to Solid Energy, Aotearoa Independent Media Centre, March 6, 2005.
  4. Protesters Stop Solid Energy Coal Trains, Save Happy Valley Coalition press release, August 13, 2005.
  5. Save Happy Valley Members in Court, Save Happy Valley Coalition press release, February 9, 2006.

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