by Gareth Hughes
Over the last week I’ve been joining many Kiwis in keeping up with the updates of the Oil Free Seas Flotilla online. Ships began departing ports from around New Zealand last week and I was privileged to attend and speak at the Wellington send-off.
Since being cheered off by hundreds of New Zealanders, the flotilla has made it to the drill site off the West Coast of the North Island. Anadarko’s drilling ship the Noble Bob Douglas has also just arrived in the last few hours to drill New Zealand’s deepest ever oil well. The Vega is refusing to leave the drill site and the Anadarko Amendment may be enforced. The Oil Free Seas Flotilla Twitter account is a good place to get live updates.
While we wait to see the result of the conflict the crew members have also been posting interesting blog posts and videos to the internet. The Flotilla has been sharing their journey in video blogs and other updates every day or two. These updates are a remarkable opportunity to witness the continuing history of the deep-rooted New Zealand tradition of standing up to protect our country.
As just one example of the ties this Flotilla has to New Zealand’s history of peaceful protest, Daniel onboard the SV Vega in Video Blog Ten talks of the ship’s and his own long history of protest at sea. The Vega also sailed in protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific. Peace flotillas set out year after year, from the early 1970’s until in 1995 the testing was brought to a halt. Anna Horne of the Flotilla was on board SV Vega in the 70’s too and says, “Nuclear testing in the Pacific wasn’t right and deep-sea oil drilling in the Tasman is not right either… We love New Zealand, and this country is what it is because kiwis have stood up for what we believe in.”
Bunny McDiarmid is onboard the SV Tiama and she also sailed on the original Rainbow Warrior. As she describes in this blog, at the spectacular site off the West Coast the crew are being visited by a remarkable array of wildlife including seabirds, sharks, seals and barracuda, whales breaching and wandering between their ships, and jellyfish particularly visible on clear nights in the moonlight. In Video Blog Nine you can also watch Bunny and Jeanette Fitzsimons aboard the SV Tiama being greeted as they reached the drilling site by a pod of whales.
The spot in the precious Tasman sea is a beautiful one, though in the latest Video Blog, Fourteen, Andy on the SV Balthazar reminds us they are really there to protect our seas and beaches for our future generations and prosperity. He says “It’s not just about New Zealand, it’s not just about this one spot. It’s about us as a planet, as a global community, and what we’re actually doing here is destroying these places, and we need to start thinking about a different way of sourcing our energy.”
The flotilla is sailing on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of us who want the message delivered to Anadarko that they are not welcome in New Zealand.
This Saturday the 23rd we can show our support on land, by joining Banners on the Beach at any one of our incredible West Coast beaches to send a message to stop deep sea oil drilling as the approaching drill-ship is confronted by the flotilla. Check out: http://www.getfree.org.nz/banners/ for more information