As Anadarko’s drilling ship lurks some 60km off Otago’s coast, hundreds flocked, flags flying, to Oil Free Otago’s “Banners on the Beach”.
As I approached St Clair beach, walking through one of Dunedin’s more yuppyish suburbs, the only sign of a protest I saw was an airplane trailing a banner that read “pro gas for oil drilling”. Imagine my relief when over the promenade I saw hundreds of people, young and old, gathered in a colourful crowd on the coast.
Niamh O’Flynn, one of the Oil Free Otago organisers, said she was very pleased with the turnout, and laughed off the presence of the airplane, and a pro-drilling boat that bobbed about on the surf just off shore.
Damian Newell, a local radion DJ, summed up those clowns saying “It’s the same old story. On the one side you have money [the airplane and the boat] and on the other side, the people.”
The rally was kicked off in fine style by the Tikao whanau and others with the haka Tahu Potiki. Although the iwi as a whole has not taken a stance on drilling, leaving it up to local marae (Kaikoura is against, Moeraki is for), it was great to see that stauch opposition.
The Rev Dr Peter Matthewson, with an energy that belied his age and a voice to challenge the sound of the surf, gave a rousing speech, followed by Newell and a set of chants before the encroaching tide called an end to a great day of solidarity and protest.
Image credit: from Oil Free Otago’s Facebook page. The page has many other great photos from today’s action.