Although I was bursting with excitement in anticipation of Christchurch's own "Hands Across the Sand" event, mother nature didn't seem to share my enthusiasm and Saturday dawned cold and drizzly.

Of course I had left all the important things like sorting out our banner and painting t-shirts to the very last minute, so the next few hours passed in a frantic flurry of coffee, coarse words and getting the car packed. Now running characteristically late, we arrived at New Brighton beach to a small brave, bedraggled crowd already waiting for us.

I realised with a sinking feeling that I didn't have much of a plan, nor had we considered the logistics of hanging a (now soaked) 12 x 6 metre banner off the New Brighton pier with nothing but a few fisherman's knots and cheap lightweight rope. Adopting the true Cantabrian "she'll be right" attitude we decided to hang it anyway. When it dropped it effectively became a massive sail that nearly lifted me, and a helpful old man, clean off the ground as we battled to secure it.

Surprisingly it held, and billowed out insistently as if to reinforce its message. By this time a following of around 70 people had appeared on the beach, including a few local pirates equipped with ukuleles and a seafaring spirit. I was trying hectically to get us positioned and was grateful when one gentleman, with a voice like a full speaker system, managed to get everyone into some sort of line where we could finally join hands in opposition to deep-sea drilling off the coast of Canterbury. What followed was a chorus of shouts, cheers and attempted instructions from photographers as we charged up and down the beach and on and off the pier in pursuit of good photo opportunities.

When at last we seemed to have enough shots I tried to yell "thank-you and congratulations" above the noise, but the crowd quickly dispersed. I was left happily astounded by the wave of passionate energy we had just encountered from the Christchurch community.

There was a fantastic array of participants, and all had come out in the cold to throw their full support behind a clean energy future for Canterbury. A special thanks to Green MPs Gareth Hughes and Mojo Mathers who came to muck in, and to all the awesome volunteers, photographers and people who showed up on the day to make it a great fun and momentum-building event!

Our event was one of several that took place from around the country. Events were held in Raglan, Nelson and Dunedin as well. It’s great to see so many communities and people from New Zealand getting out there and showing their opposition to deep sea oil drilling.

Siana Fitzjohn
Greenpeace volunteer

Photos : ©RoryGilmore-Graphics2Go