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Oil conference delayed by hours after doors blockaded

Date: 22 March 2017

Oil conference delayed by hours after protesters blockade doors

Taranaki locals and people from across Aotearoa, New Zealand peacefully disrupted New Zealand’s annual Petroleum Conference from dawn this morning and blockaded all entrances into the building, shutting it down for hours.

By midday, dozens of oil delegates attending the conference were still unable to enter the TSB Showplace in New Plymouth.

The blockade was part of ‘The People’s Climate Rally’, a three-day event organised by a coalition of groups from Taranaki and around New Zealand that are calling for clean and fair alternatives to the fossil fuel industry.

Inside the conference, Energy Minister Judith Collins announced the Block Offer tender for 2017. This saw the Government open over 480,000 square kilometres of land and sea for oil and gas exploration.

The People’s Climate Rally spokesperson, Emily Tuhi-Ao Bailey, says the protest is part of a long tradition of non violent direct action in New Zealand.

“Today marks a significant milestone in our resistance to the oil industry. This is the biggest demonstration against the industry that Taranaki has seen in decades. People from all walks of life, young and old, put their bodies on the line to make it clear that we will not accept an industry that continues to pollute our environment and atmosphere,” she says.

“We want a liveable planet for everyone. We want climate action now. The people here today demand an immediate stop to any new gas and oil exploration and a halt to new fracking.

“We are particularly mindful that our relations in the Pacific Islands are on the frontlines of climate change. They are being drowned by nations like ours that are still stubbornly committed to extracting more oil that we cannot afford to burn.

“Today’s blockade comes after years of protests from hapu and iwi in Northland - Te Tai Tokerau; the East Coast -Te Tai Rawhiti; and Te Wai Pounamu from Taranaki, as well as from communities all over New Zealand who are saying no to oil and gas.”

It’s the first time the Government and international oil delegates have held the oil conference in Taranaki. This move comes after years of escalating protests in Wellington and Auckland, which have seen thousands take to the streets and hundreds blockade the Sky City conference venue.

An important part of The People’s Climate Rally will be tomorrow’s focus on solutions. This programme starts at 10.30am at the Senior Citizens Hall on 27 Liardet Street.

There will be talks and workshops with visiting research scholar and author Dr Terrence Loomis, Greens former co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, Ecotricity Director Al Yates, Parihaka Papakāinga Sustainable Energy Researchers Josh Curd, and Tihikura Hohaia. At the Huatoki Plaza will be demonstrations of electric and hybrid vehicles.

There will also be and a public forum on ‘Just Transition off Fossil Fuels’, with experts on renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, indigenous rights and environmental education.

ENDS

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