Thousands of people from around the country are expected to bang home a message to global oil executives during a march against deep sea oil drilling in Auckland this month. The protest, on March 29, will coincide with the launch of the Advantage New Zealand Petroleum Summit where representatives from the world's biggest oil corporations are meeting to discuss drilling in New Zealand.
The summit will include an address by energy and resources minister Simon Bridges, who is expected to announce the government's 2015 block offers for petroleum exploration. This would see more areas of New Zealand's ocean being opened up to mostly foreign oil drillers.
The offers are likely to include hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of our ocean territory off the West Coast of the North Island, stretching from Taranaki to beyond Northland; as well as large offshore tracts of the East Coast of the North and South Islands, from Hawke's Bay to south of Bluff.
Groups such as Greenpeace New Zealand, 350 Aotearoa, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and Oil Free Auckland are working together to organise the march against deep sea drilling.
Niamh O'Flynn of 350 Aotearoa says we must listen to the warnings of leading scientists around the world.
"They're saying we must urgently move away from burning oil and towards clean energy if we want to reduce the extreme droughts, storms and food shortages that climate change is bringing."
A video promoting the march has been launched and can be viewed here.
Greenpeace climate and energy spokesperson Steve Abel is encouraging protesters to bring a drum to beat alongside scores of others in a statement against the harmful seismic blasts that are created by ships prospecting for oil in New Zealand.
The blasts, which can be heard from over 100km away, are the first step of oil exploration, and involve a ship firing off repeated seismic booms from underwater airguns every few seconds, day and night.
"Even though the blasting is known to distress marine mammals, it's being carried out right now over huge tracts of ocean and very close to the habitat of the critically endangered Maui's Dolphin," Abel says.
"There are only 55 of the subspecies remaining - I mean this is the world's rarest dolphin - if the Government had its priorities right this wouldn't be happening at all."
Deep sea drilling also risks a catastrophic oil spill that could irreparably damage our oceans, coasts, economy and way of life, he says.
Industry standard oil spill modelling shows that a deep sea oil blowout could devastate New Zealand's coastlines, with Auckland's West Coast beaches such as Piha and Muriwai potentially being some of the worst affected.
Abel says the march will be an event for all ages, as the risks of deep sea oil drilling and the impact of climate change affect us all.
"It will be a family-friendly day that sends a strong message to the oil industry and government that deep sea drilling is not welcome in our oceans."
March to Stop Deep Sea Oil, March 29, midday, Victoria Park - www.stopdeepseaoil.org.nz for more details.