In New Zealand’s answer to Gotham – Auckland - there is a lot of drama.  Especially on Queen St. It’s where crime, violence, the very rich, the very poor, and office workers clutching Starbucks takeaway coffee cups, all mix together to form what makes for the usual routine on the Golden Mile.

But even the most jaded salary slaves must have done a double take on Tuesday at the life-sized, seemingly homeless polar bear standing on a box in Vulcan Lane, forlornly strumming on a guitar.

Lonesome polar bear

Even the street vendor selling copies of the Herald newspaper – someone who must see a lot in the course of their day - started shuffling from foot to foot, in the knowledge that such an anachronistic sight would only be a forerunner of trouble.

And so it was to be. At first, the droning platitudes from the guy in the Shell uniform seemed plausible, and calming, if not a little loud. “Oil spills hardly happen anymore,” while not accurate, sounds like a good thing if you’re talking about drilling in the Arctic. So does “Drilling in the Arctic is 100 per cent safe,” and “Shell is an environmentally responsible company.”

Man with microphone

But when stupid ideas come to fruition, it’s not pretty. 

Despite the spreading mess, the man from Shell continued to make his bland assurances, as the company drones pushed oil about with the brooms and shovels that make for the business end of Shell’s oil spill response plan. 

Symbolic oil spill on the ground

It wasn’t until a bystander took the lead in challenging the company line, that things began to change.  Others were quick to follow, and through strength in numbers, crisis was averted….

ordinary people turn into superheros in order to save the Arctic

If you don’t want to see this sort of drama in the Arctic, go here to sign the petition calling for the Arctic to be saved for all of humanity.

Disclaimer: the polar bears, Shell employees, and the Wonder Women were all actors - Greenpeace staff who had volunteered their time to create the street theatre/flashmob. The street vendor was playing a cameo, and the oil spill was a fake.

Bystander poses for photo with polar bear