Thursday, 28 November: A group of people who have been occupying Austrian oil giant OMV’s support vessel in the Port of Timaru are now racing north to New Plymouth - the destination of the boat and OMV’s Taranaki base.
At dawn on Sunday, almost 30 people boarded the OMV ‘henchboat’, Skandi Atlantic, preventing it from leaving port for 57 hours, before being removed by police.
Now, as the Skandi Atlantic prepares to travel up to meet OMV’s 34,000 tonne oil rig off the coast of New Plymouth, several of the protestors have jumped in a minibus and are driving the length of the country to join a public mobilisation at the company’s headquarters.
The group includes Magdalena Bischof, a student and volunteer Greenpeace climber from Austria who spent three days locked to the henchboat’s derrick.
Bischof says it’s important to confront OMV’s operations in New Zealand to show Austrians just what their national oil company is up to in the faraway oceans of the Pacific.
"We’re in a climate emergency. Like millions of people around the world, Austrians have also taken to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to demand action on climate change," she says.
"OMV is one of just 100 companies that have caused more than two-thirds of the world’s climate emissions. In Austria, we’re not ok with this. As well as confronting OMV back at home, we want to show support to the resistance against OMV here in New Zealand."
Another of the occupiers, Jack Brazil, a former law student and spokesperson for Dunedin-based Environmental Justice Ōtepoti, is also making the journey north.
"My home is the East Coast of the South Island, next to the Great South Basin where OMV is set to carry out the riskiest form of oil drilling, at extreme depths. An oil spill could devastate this coastline, and communities that live along it," he says.
"This ocean is recognised for its biodiversity and rare marine life that sustains all life. Once that’s lost, it’s lost."
The minibus will pick up people during the journey to OMV’s New Plymouth headquarters. Here, the group will join hundreds of people from around the country who are gathering for a three day peaceful protest to evict the oil giant, kicking off on December 2.
Photos and videos for download:
New Plymouth OMV protest information:
https://act.greenpeace.org/page/51592/petition More information about the Timaru occupation: