Greenpeace has launched its crowdfunded boat ‘Taitu’ this morning from Napier and is heading out to confront the world’s biggest seismic blasting ship.

Trump-backed oil giant Chevron and arctic driller Statoil are using the 125-metre long Amazon Warrior, dubbed “The Beast”, to search for oil off the Wairarapa Coast.

8 April 2017 – The crowdfunded Greenpeace NZ vessel leaving Napier to confront the Statoil / Chevron seismic oil exploration vessel Amazon Warrior © Greenpeace

Greenpeace New Zealand crowdfunded nearly $100,000 in just seven days to buy the newest member of its fleet, the 15-metre Taitu, and then crowdsourced its name.

Executive Director, Dr Russel Norman, says people across New Zealand are rising up against the pursuit of new oil to burn.

“In New Zealand we’ve been inundated with a deluge of extreme storms, flooding, droughts and fires in the space of just a couple of months, and it’s only April.

“Victoria University climate scientist, Professor James Renwick, has just come out and said the devastating floods, which have seen thousands evacuated from their homes, are connected to climate change.

“Climate change makes extreme weather events worse. It threatens our homes, health and families, and the science is clear – if we want a stable climate for us and our kids, we can’t burn even half the fossil fuel reserves that have already been discovered (1).

“This means not a single new oil well, gas field or coal mine can operate anywhere if we are to avoid a climate catastrophe.

“Despite knowing this, our Government is actively subsidising oil companies to look for new oil, putting profits above people’s lives. And this is all while Prime Minister Bill English is visiting families in Edgecumbe who’ve lost everything in the floods. It’s deplorable.”

Taitu’s trip follows on from a flotilla that included Ngāti Kahungunu’s voyaging waka Te Matau a Maui, which travelled out to the Amazon Warrior to deliver a message on behalf of more than 80 hapū of Te Ikaroa.  This is the third warning delivered to the ship by Te Ikaroa.

The Amazon Warrior has been searching for oil off the Wairarapa Coast since last November. This involves blasting the seafloor, every eight seconds, day and night.

The ship is commissioned by Statoil and Chevron, who have permits to drill to extreme depths of up to three kilometres if oil is found.

The Fossil Fuel President, Donald Trump, has shares in Chevron, and the oil company funded a large part of his presidential inauguration.

Public opposition to the oil exploration has seen protests in ports, petitions garnering tens of thousands of signatures, and significant local council and iwi opposition.

In January, Greenpeace and East Coast group, Te Ikaroa, travelled nearly 50 nautical miles in small inflatables to confront the ship and deliver messages signed by almost 80,000 New Zealanders.

Norman says this time it’s important to take more people out to sea, stay out there for longer, and to do it in a people-powered boat.

“Hope exists in people standing together and demanding change. When we stand together, we always win,” he says.

Russel and the crew will be posting live updates here.

Greenpeace NZ’s crowdfunded boat MV Taitu on its maiden voyage from Wellington to Napier, on the way to confront the seismic blasting ship Amazon Warrior. © Jason Blair / Greenpeace