Protest flotilla returns to sea on one year anniversary of Deepwater Horizon oil disaster

Press release - April 20, 2011
Wharekahika, Wednesday, 20 April 2011: The flotilla, with replenished supplies and crew will leave Wharekahika/Hick’s Bay today to return to the Rauku-mara Basin area.

Today’s one year anniversary of the US Gulf of Mexico disaster – dubbed the worst environmental disaster in US history – serves as a warning to the dangers of deep sea oil drilling. The pollution has not disappeared. The impact continues to ricochet through marine and human food chains and has cost the US economy tens of billions of dollars.

Tribal leader of te Wha-nau a- Apanui Rikirangi Gage has joined the flotilla today, for the first time, on board the fishing vessel San Pietro.

“I am setting to sea today to deliver the message directly to Petrobras that by the presence of their exploratory vessel they are stepping  on our mana tangata, mana whenua and mana moana, and that they are not welcome here and not endorsed to be here by te Wha-nau a-Apanui.

“My message to John Key is, ‘We do not want the drilling – this is not the sort of industry we want for our people – we want clean and safe energy sources that do not risk our treasured waters and coasts.”

Petrobras is surveying in the Rauku-mara Basin to drill for oil in waters up to twice the depths in which the Deepwater Horizon rig was working when the infamous blow out occurred. Even the best technology available to the oil industry and the world’s wealthiest economy couldn’t stem the oil gusher for 86 days.

 “Our own NZ Petroleum Exploration and Production Association admitted on Radio NZ today that “if you had a major catastrophe, it would be just as bad as the disaster in North America."  This is exactly why New Zealand should be investing in clean, safe energy,” said Greenpeace New Zealand Climate Campaigner Steve Abel.

“On the anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster we sail to sea again to ensure that there is no repeat of that disaster in New Zealand waters”, said Greenpeace New Zealand Climate Campaigner Vanessa Atkinson on board Windbourne. “We are not intimidated by the navy, airforce and police presence and remain resolute in our determination to ensure that deep sea oil exploration and drilling does not happen in New Zealand waters”.

The flotilla is made up of, and supported by, a coalition of individual skippers, peoples and groups including te Wha-nau a- Apanui, the Nuclear Free Seas Flotilla and Greenpeace.


12 April 2011: RNZHS Pu-kaki- arrives after 8 days of Orion surveillance. The police claim they can arrest protestors who would face a $10,000 fine or up to a year in prison.

10 April 2011: Protest action by flotilla, te Wha-nau a- Apanui and Greenpeace saw swimmers stop the seismic survey vessel Orient Explorer for nearly 3 days.

5 April 2011: Flotilla finds seismic testing ship and radio messages to cease activity and leave.

2 April 2011: Flotilla crew welcomed at Whangapara-oa Bay by te Wha-nau a- Apanui.

27 March 2011: Flotilla opposing deep sea oil drilling departs Auckland in response to call from te Wha-nau a- Apanui.

For more information contact:

Dayle Takitimu spokesperson for te Wha-nau a- Apanui on: 021 378 770 Steve Abel Greenpeace Climate Change Campaigner in Auckland on: 021 927 301 Dean Baigent-Mercer Greenpeace Communications Officer on: 0226 730 572

Video containing soundbites from Greenpeace New Zealand climate campaigner Vanessa Atkinson at the flotilla departure will be available for free download from the Greenpeace ftp server later in the day.

Any queries contact Phil Crawford, Greenpeace media & communications, 021 22 99 594 or