Government’s Misleading Safety Claims An Attempt to Silence Flotilla?

Press release - April 21, 2011
Ōpōtiki Thursday 21 April 2011: Around midnight flotilla yacht Secret Affair was contacted by Police from the Navy vessel HMNZS Taupō. Skipper David Armstrong was ordered to turn 90 degrees towards and into the seismic testing arrays that trail up to 10 kilometres behind the oil survey ship Orient Explorer. The Skipper of Secret Affair protested that this would be unwise. The Police forcefully repeated their orders for the Skipper to head into the arrays, which he then complied with.

Realising their mistake and panicking, the Police then ordered the Skipper to change course again in the opposite direction to move away from the array which sends out high decibel undersea acoustic explosions.

“Given the lack of clarity around legal jurisdiction the Police appear to be following the Government’s strategy and exaggerating safety issues in order to justify their intervention in a legitimate protest action where none exist,” said David Armstrong onboard Secret Affair today.

 “As soon we began protesting in the Raukūmara Basin opposing deep sea oil exploration and drilling, the Government created safety claims as a pretext for shutting down the Flotilla's peaceful protest,” said Armstrong.

All the skippers, crew and activists involved in the flotilla are experienced and highly safety conscious. Te Whānau ā Apanui have navigated and fished these waters for many generations.

The second yacht mentioned in the Police media release issued today is unknown to the flotilla that are opposing deep sea oil drilling. They were in all likelihood sailors enjoying a coastal cruise off the East Cape when they were descended upon by New Zealand’s armed forces.

For more information contact:

Greenpeace New Zealand Communications Officer Dean Baigent-Mercer 0226 730 572