When Simon Bridges announced the areas of Aotearoa that he wants to open up for oil and gas exploration in 2016 (the “Block Offers”), he probably wasn’t expecting this…
In just six weeks since the announcement 25 communities around the country have mobilised and publicly demanded that their local councils say NO to deep sea oil and Block the Offer.
Over the next week many other councils will be deciding where they stand. Auckland Council will decide at a public meeting on November 29th and we will all get see what they’re made of.
In recent history decisions like the one Christchurch and Kaikoura just made caused huge ripples throughout our country and changed the course of history.
Thirty three years ago Wellington City became the first council to go against the Government of the time and declare itself a nuclear-weapon-free zone. This was a brave move and it had an effect far beyond Wellington City. “Wellington became a benchmark for others… and by the end of 1984, 40 local authorities had nuclear-free policies.” Central Government then finally stepped up to the plate and at the end of 1984 had banned nuclear armed or powered ships from entering New Zealand’s territorial waters. This legislation was broadened and strengthened over the next few years and it still remains today.
What made that nuclear free movement successful all those years ago is exactly the same thing that is making the oil free movement successful today:
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata – The people, the people, the people.
It is the brave people who choose to draw the line, get outside their comfort zone and stand up for what they believe in.
Bridget, Ralph, Jenny, Rosemary, Michelle, Murray, Jess, Gail, Doreen. Those names are merely the start of the long list of people who are demanding that their council oppose risky oil drilling. They’ve done their research, called their councillors, gathered support, turned up to council meetings and publicly presented their case. Change would not be possible without them and without the support of the thousands of people who stand alongside them.
The huge swell of community action following the Government’s release of it’s risky plans for 2016 is evidence that opposition to deep sea oil is coursing through the veins of Aotearoa. We know our history, we know that when New Zealanders decide enough is enough, they stand up and they don’t back down.
The New Zealand Government were not paying attention in history class and they didn’t do their homework. They’ve tried, and failed, to ignore the fact that if you push New Zealanders too far they will push back in ways that might just change the course of history.
It’s the New Zealand Story.