1.30pm on the top deck of the new rainbow warrior looking over the beautiful hills of Lyttleton harbour, Christchurch. Already today I’ve seen two pods of our native Hectors dolphins coyly swimming by our ship. This is the kind of landscape typical of our country and it makes me feel so lucky to have grown up in a place like this.
Sitting here it’s hard to believe that at the end of this year oil giant Anadarko want to start surveying in preparation for their dangerous deep sea oil drilling operations just off this pristine coast. It’s a serious threat to our way of life in New Zealand.
My question is why?
No one disagrees that we all want to have long term, well-paying jobs in our communities. But risking our oceans, our lands and in turn the well-being of our peoples is certainly not the way to go. Not to mention most of the money from oil and gas found in our waters will go straight to these massive overseas corporations. And when they do have a blowout, what happens to the thousands of kiwis who rely on things like fishing and tourism to earn a living? We can forget about taking the whanau camping every summer. No one wants to hang out on beaches covered in toxic oil with dead bird carcasses everywhere.
So, whats a kiwi to do?
Well it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom. The Rainbow Warrior represents a much more prosperous and realistic future for us here in lil ol’ Aotearoa. For starters, we are already world leaders when it comes to renewable energy like the sun and the wind and things that don’t run out. The world is literally gagging for experts on stuff like this, and they’re willing to pay a lot of money for it. Not to mention (and it’s hard to forget this in a busy little port like Lyttleton) a massive chunk (70%) of our export economy relies on our clean and pure image. Essentially what this means is that when people overseas are at the supermarket deciding what product to buy, the reason they choose to purchase NZ goods is because they know that it comes from a land that is full of natural beauty, is nuclear free, has oceans full of life and is relatively free of toxic pollutants. That’s the land I grew up in and that’s the way I want to keep it-not just for me but for my kids too.
What our government doesn’t seem to realise is that we can capitalise on this and more! We are well known for our ingenuity and our independence in the face of adversity (think David Lange, circa 1985). We CAN pave a bright future with lots of jobs and economic stability without compromising our values and our ability to swim in clean rivers, go fishing with our dads, or tramping in any one of our numerous and so treasured national parks.
Last night, as I was happily drenched in seaspray on the tender heading back from the shore I looked to the distance to see the Warrior’s big masts and strong, rounded hull. She was a beacon of hope for what is possible for New Zealand. But the future we desire can only be achieved if we all get on board together, so let’s do it!