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Protest – it’s in our DNA

2013 ENEX petroleum event

Protest – it’s in our DNA

We have been a nation driven by ‘protest’ ever since Governor Hobson declared British sovereignty over New Zealand on May 21, 1840; setting off a howl of indignation and protest from the settlers of Wellington who were setting up their own republic.

Hobson, and his choice of capital city, Auckland (which enraged the settlers even more), won the day with the backing of troops, but that dissension set the tone for a future nation that doesn’t hesitate to take to the streets and protest against the government of the time.

Kiwi protests over 173 years represent a colourful litany of placard waving marches, chant-filled congregations, streets stunts, noisy picketing, nudity, flag burning, mooning, petitions, mock funerals, media leaking and, more recently, barking-mad social media ranting. Most of it has been peaceful, but some very violent, such as the 1912/13 strikes and the 1981 Springbok tour.

Protest techniques and causes, like the sit-ins of the 1970s, reflect protest fads and fashions washed down from overseas. Others, such as the long-distance hikoi marches and Resource Management Act delays, are uniquely Kiwi.

Protest against petroleum exploration is a more recent trend, fueled by fracking concerns in the US and the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion in 2010.

Kit Wilson, external affairs coordinator at Newmont Waihi Gold, is no stranger to protest, he has been on both the giving and receiving end.

In his presentation at the 2013 ENEX petroleum event New Plymouth, June 6-7, Kit will canvas the history of protest in this country, identify social factors that contribute to protest action, and identify key protest behaviours.

He will also address the conjoined practical issues of corporate response to protest and working with the media during a protest event.

His presentation is based on actual experience on both sides of the protest placard, and will provide some easy to implement ‘dos and don’ts’ for use in the field, in the boardroom, and in front of media cameras and mikes.


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