Greenpeace’s flagship vessel the Rainbow Warrior III is on its way to Taranaki waters to protest against oil and gas exploration in the region. The vessel, which won’t be docking at Port Taranaki, will be travelling between multiple oil and gas rigs along the coast in the coming days.
Greenpeace said the Rainbow Warrior is in New Zealand to celebrate Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s April announcement that the government was ending offshore oil and gas exploration permits in New Zealand. Greenpeace is calling for the government to go further and ban all existing permits.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson said that for some New Zealand communities, there is still a risk that oil and gas exploration could be around for years to come due to existing permits which were passed before the ban.
As of April there were 31 existing permits, 22 of them being offshore, with some not ending until 2030. Larsson is on board the Rainbow Warrior, along with Greenpeace members, Emily Bailey of Climate Justice Taranaki, and Agnes Wharehoka, from Parihaka, and Kura Niwa, from Pukerangiora Hapū.
Larsson said they were hoping to raise awareness of the issue and send a message to Austrian oil and gas giant OMV, which operates the majority of the oil rigs off the Taranaki coast and is planning to drill nine new exploratory wells in the region next year.
“We are focusing on sending a message to OMV,” she said. “Taranaki is one of three areas in New Zealand that is still open to oil and gas companies wanting to exploit dirty energy reserves from under the seabed.
“The oil industry are already resisting this amendment and are using their influence and deep pockets to fight against any sort of action on climate change that jeopardises their profits.
“New Zealand became one of the first countries in the world to announce a ban on new oil and gas exploration. This happened off the back of a decade-long campaign by a movement of hundreds of thousands of people. It’s important now that we solidify our position as a global climate leader and get this ban over the line,” Larrson said.
The ship is the third to bear the name Rainbow Warrior. The first was sunk by the French secret service in Auckland Harbour in 1985.