Monthly Archives: February 2012

G-Force Against Climate Change – Demo On The Steps Of Parliament

Jill Whitmore of G-Force writes:

My granddaughter and I and her parents will be on the steps of Parliament for two afternoons, starting on Wednesday.

On Thursday 1 March from 12 noon until about 2pm, we hope to be joined there by many other grandparents and grandchildren, also great-aunts and –uncles and other mature New Zealanders – “G-Force”, and all those who would like the opportunity to protest against our continuing slide towards runaway climate change.

For almost the first time, the human race has the power to extinguish our planet’s capacity to support life. All we have to do to accomplish this ultimate catastrophe, is to continue to burn all the world’s coal reserves. According to a recent study, this would result in global temperature rising at least 15 degrees Centigrade!!.

The authors of this study conclude that we are not going to “run out” of fossil fuels; long before then, we will run out of liveable planet.

As “props” we will have a large blue ball, painted to represent planet Earth, with its green and tawny land masses and its ice caps. And a sign saying “Too Precious to Fry”. And a few other signs, many of them relating to coal, e.g. “Save the Climate / No New Coal!”.

Those joining us, feel free to bring your own signs. We will gather under a banner saying “We Care What Sort Of World Our Grandchildren Inherit!”

We are hoping that we will hear briefly from Green MP Gareth Hughes, and from Dr Martin Manning of Victoria University’s Climate Change Research Institute.

It would be great if Wellington people can go along and support Jill and other members of G-Force at Thursday lunchtime.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter – February 2012

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the first Coal Action Network Aotearoa newsletter for 2012. Since our last newsletter, sent out in mid-December, something big has happened: our Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, which took place on Mike Dumbar’s farm near Mataura in Southland in late January.

The Festival was the biggest event we’ve organised so far, so the first section of this newsletter is devoted to Festival news and reportbacks. Then we move on to other developments – including a big upsurge in local and regional group activities, much of it sparked off by the Festival.

If you are in South Canterbury or in the Whanganui-Manawatu region, check out the public meetings in those regions early next week – see under “Public and Group Meetings” in Part B below.

Finally, there is the regular information we put in each Newsletter: how to donate to the Coal Action Network Aotearoa, how you can follow us and help spread the word on social media, and how our mailing lists work. If you haven’t read this information before, please do! (And by the way, at the time of writing this, our Twitter account, @coalaction, sits on 299 followers – if you are on Twitter and don’t yet follow us, help push us past the 300 mark!)

It’s going to be a big year. We hope it’s going well for you so far, and we look forward to working with you in 2012.

Tim Jones
for Coal Action Network Aotearoa


  • Part A: The Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival
    A selection of reportbacks, presentations available online, and media coverage

  • Part B: Other News and Resources

    • 1. Local and Regional Meetings
    • 2. The Jonathan Wyatt Tour
    • 3. Campaign Resources

  • Part C: The Regulars

    • 1. How to donate to CAN Aotearoa
    • 2. CAN Aotearoa on social media
    • 3. How our mailing lists work

PART A: The Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival

How did it go?

From 20-23 January, the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival was held on Mike Dumbar’s farm, a few kilometres south-west of Mataura in Southland, and just up the road from where Solid Energy is building its pilot lignite-to-briquette plant. About 150 people registered to attend, many of whom were there throughout the Festival, and in addition, up to 100 further local people joined Festival-goers for our Community Day at the Mataura Community Centre, where we heard from a range of speakers on the effects of large-scale coal and lignite mining on the climate, on health, and on rural communities.

How did it go? Very well, in my opinion – despite a few attendees who did not quite take our warnings to bring warm clothing and rain gear seriously enough 🙂

But then again, I would say it went well, wouldn’t I? So, with the author’s permission, here are extracts from a report on the Festival written by Jane Young for the South Otago Forest & Bird Newsletter. She begins:

It’s hard to say what impressed me most about the Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CANA) Summer Festival held recently on Mike Dumbar’s property near Mataura. Was it the informative and inspirational speakers? Was it the good-humoured fellowship among a group that included Auckland lawyers, Southland farmers, Dunedin students, Wellington politicians and concerned citizens from just about everywhere. Or was it the toilets?

The composting organic toilets constructed for the Festival were, indeed, impressive. After extolling their virtues, and noting the commitment to his land of the Festival’s host, Mike Dumbar, Jane goes on to say:

Just how difficult it must be for Mike to hold out is made plain when you see a map of the Mataura valley with his land surrounded by what, if Solid Energy have their way, will become a very, very large opencast lignite mine.

Of course, Mike isn’t the only beleaguered farmer, either in New Zealand or overseas. Queensland farmer, Sid Plant, got a standing ovation from a packed audience in the Mataura Community Centre when he described how his family had stood up to the mining company, New Hope, despite suffering enormous stress as neighbour after neighbour was bought up by the company.

“The mining companies all say ‘we will make it better than it was’ but they destroy the land–it can never be rehabilitated. I’ve witnessed the desecration of the best quality farmland where I live–just as Solid Energy is about to do in Southland. You can never get it back,” Mr Plant told the meeting.

After highlighting Dr Shannon Page’s presentation at the Community Day about the weakness of Solid Energy’s claims that Carbon Capture and Storage will provide a solution to the emissions from their planned plants (see the link to his presentation below), Jane Young concludes:

It would be easy to get discouraged by the immense difficulty of trying to stop the mining juggernaut. You know, perhaps what impressed me most at the Festival wasn’t the toilets after all; but meeting the family who put up their tent next to ours. It turned out that they had lost most of their possessions in a fire last year. Oh yes, and their home got redstickered after the Christchurch earthquake. Yet there they were, camping in a field, because they felt it was important to join together to fight for environmental justice. As Sid Plant, the Queensland farmer, might have said: ‘Good on yer mate.’

Community Day Presentations

As mentioned above, the Sunday of the Festival was the Community Day in Mataura – you can see the programme at the Summer Festival site:

Five presentations from the Community Day are now available on our website. Before you download these, please do bear in mind that several of them – especially Sid Plant’s presentation – are large files which will take some time to download on a slow connection.

Plus, here is an audio file of Sid Plant being interviewed on The Farming Show:

Southland People reflect on the CANA Summer Festival in Mataura

It was agreed we came to learn more which happened, with Australian farmer /activist, Sid Plant as the highlight. His personal story was ideal to focus us and others on the issues we are facing.

Even though a diverse group of people attended, we all gelled. We felt the respect was amazing for locals and their wishes, especially regarding listening to locals about not implementing NVDA at this time.

Educational aspects with brilliant speakers added to our own experiences. We felt it would be hard to improve and we just need to build on that for another one. Next year?

The festival provided a sense of national support for the small group who have fronted the battle up to now. Having the one major event also brought together more Southland people who have been concerned about the lignite issue but have been working outside the CANA organisation. We now have a much bigger Southland group and already have a list of actions we are following through.

Our challenge is to get more people to help with educating and informing locals.

We agreed an annual event is the logical thing to do. We have a lot of ideas for another festival and need a strategy to help locals focus on issues other than just (or rather unjust) jobs.

– compiled by Jenny Campbell

Media Coverage of the Festival

The Festival got a lot of good media coverage. Here is a selection:

Otago Daily Times: Campaigners plan anti-mining festival: and Campaigners barred at site:

TV1: Aussie farmer warns over lignite mining:

TV3: Residents protest Mataura coal mining:

Radio NZ Morning Report audio: “Fight starts over lignite mining”:

Southland Times online poll: “Do you support the Keep Coal in the Hole protest against Solid Energy plans to mine lignite near Mataura?”:

Coal Action Network Aotearoa press release about the Community Day in Mataura:

Video: “Anzac Day in Acland”

At the Summer Festival, Sid Plant showed us this powerful music video. It shows, better than words alone can tell, what coal mining does to small communities in its path. Here are a couple of different videos of “Anzac Day in Acland”:

Blogs of Note

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter rode to the Festival by bike, and blogged her journey here:
– first post:
– final post, with reflections on the Festival:

These two blogs are great places to keep up with what’s happening on lignite and other environmental issues in Southland:

Finally, even an international mining engineer has come out against lignite mining in New Zealand:

Photos of the Festival

1,000 images from the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival taken by David Russell can be viewed at – thanks, David!

After the Festival

As a result of the Festival, the Southland group has new energy and new members, and there are new regional groups forming, or looking at forming, in several parts of the country. We have a lot more information, and also a number of requests for this information on the risks and dangers of large-scale lignite mining to be made available in simpler, easier-to-access ways. We are now working on meeting those needs. We also have suggestions for future actions that need to be carefully considered and fitted into our overall strategy.

We will be working on all these aspects over the coming months – look out for more information as the year goes on and the campaign grows.

PART B: Other News

1. Public and group meetings

One of the best things to come out of the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival has been a surge in activity around the country from people getting together in their cities or regions to oppose the expanded mining and use of coal. Within the next month, there are two public meetings that we know of, plus a number of other meetings in various centres to establish anti-coal action groups, or integrate new people into existing groups.

Timaru public meeting, Monday 20 February

Energy for Industry, a subsidiary of Meridian Energy, is planning to put in new boilers at its Washdyke plant just north of Timaru – and they are asking the Council for permission to install coal-fired as well as wood-fired boilers. A public meeting has been called to oppose the proposal to allow coil-fired boilers to be installed:

Keep the Coal in the Hole and OUT of Washdyke…Public meeting
Monday 20 February
7.30pm, South School Hall, 44 Queen Street, Timaru
Organized by Transition Timaru

News story on Energy for Industry’s plans:

Whanganui/Manawatu public meeting on Denniston, Tuesday 21 February

Anti-coal-mining activists in the Whanganui/Manawatu meeting are holding their first public meeting on plans to open up more of the Denniston Plateau on the South Island’s West Coast to coal mining:

Save Denniston Plateau: Information Evening in Whanganui
Tuesday 21 February
7.00 pm, 256 Wicksteed St., Whanganui

Full details of the meeting, and how you can help with the Denniston campaign, are here:

Denniston: An Artist’s Perspective

While we are talking about Denniston, check out this excellent blog post from artist Meliors Simms:

Fired up about Stockton Mine and Denniston Plateau:

Southland News Update

Relationship building, mutual support and a great sense of coordinated purpose has come to Southland regarding the anti-lignite campaign as a result of the national ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ Summer Festival weekend in Mataura, 20 – 23 January.

As a member of the CANA organising group, it was a privilege to work with so many people who gave of their time, effort, skills, expertise and donations of goods and services to ensure the festival was an outstanding success! In particular the people of Mataura and surrounding districts provided generous hospitality to people from all over Aotearoa/NZ and even several international visitors – most of whom had never been to Mataura or even south of Christchurch. They were very impressed with the facilities, positive attitudes from locals and the exciting new initiatives there eg community garden and the mataitai native plantings which are a focus for community building. The people from the wider Southland area also came to appreciate what Mataura has to offer.

Thank you to Mike Dumbar who provided his farm as a strategic venue, local scouts for tents and equipment and for generous donations of scrummy food from attendees. A special contribution was made by our Australian farmer guest, Sid Plant along with our guest speakers – Dr Peter Barrett, Dr Russell Tregonning, Steve Goldthorpe, and Dr Shannon Page – along with all the workshop contributors and facilitators. The event enabled all the people who attended to learn, network, form new groups and strategise for ‘where to now’.

I was blessed to be working and learning from several committee members:- Jeanette Fitzsimons- programme, Rosemary Penwarden- finances, Tim Jones- resources / communication, Kristin Gillies- logistics and of course several others who came to ensure all was ready on site for the guests’ arrival. Keeping our energy levels up was Claire Dann as caterer with her team of willing helpers. The children’s programme was thoughtful and appreciated- run by Zella Horrell.

The local consensus seems to be- it was an awesome event which gave them renewed energy and the hope is for an annual event!

The Mataura, Gore and other Southland people have been meeting regularly since the camp with the next focus being Waimumu Field Days, a huge agricultural event similar to Mystery Creek (26 000 people there last time), Wed 15 Feb to Fri 17 Feb. Flyers have been created with themes of farming concerns/issues and drama excerpts based on ‘lignitemare’ are envisaged- popping up around the site!

The Festival photographer, Dave Russell, is planning a touring photographic exhibition using camp photos and quotes. The group agrees that our focus here needs to be on soil and farmland loss. Other plans are afoot as our energy allows.

Kia kaha,
Jenny Campbell from Southland

Auckland Coal Action report

Auckland Coal Action delegates returned from the festival at Mataura full of energy and enthusiasm to get to work on the Auckland campaign for a coal-free Aotearoa. We’ve got plenty of activities to get busy on, so if you’re keen to join us contact or come along to our next meeting, Saturday 3 March, 1-4pm at the Quaker Meeting House, 113 Mt Eden Rd.

Our aims: Auckland Coal Action recognises that coal is the dirtiest of the fossil fuels and that its ongoing use will lead to catastrophic climate change. We aim to achieve a coal-free Aotearoa by 2030, initially by opposing the expansion of coal mining. We do this work to play our part in sustaining a benign climate for us, our children and grandchildren.

Other regions

Plans are afoot in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin to either reinvigorate existing anti-coal action groups or look at setting up new groups and events. We’ll bring you details of those as and when they become public, but in the meantime, please contact if you are in one of those areas, haven’t already been contacted about this, and want to get involved.

2. Jonathan Watts Tour: “Let’s Learn Environmental Lessons from China”

Jonathan Watts, the Asia environmental correspondent of the Guardian newspaper, has written a book called “When A Billion Chinese Jump”. It’s a travelogue through China, looking at the wide range of environmental issues China faces, including coal mining. His perspective is that coal mining and use is bad for China’s environment and for the global climate, and that CCS will not ‘solve’ the greenhouse gas emissions from China’s use of coal.

Paramount Services Ltd, an Auckland-based cleaning company franchise, is bringing Jonathan Watts to NZ for a speaking tour from 29 March-4 April 2012. He will be speaking to public meetings in Auckland, Taupo, Wellington and Christchurch, as follows:

Auckland – Thursday 29 March 2012
Taupo – Friday 30 March 2012
Wellington – Monday 2 April 2012
Christchurch – Wednesday 4 April 2012

Full details of the tour, including venues, times and booking details, are here:–let-s-learn-from-china-

3. Campaign Resources

PART C: The Regulars

1. How to donate to CAN Aotearoa

As this campaign grows, our costs are beginning to increase. Thank you to all those who have donated during the past month. If you’d like to help us financially, you can donate as follows:

Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00

2. CAN Aotearoa on social media

Our Facebook Group

Our Facebook group is at – if you are on Facebook, please join, and invite your friends to join too.

A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil:

@coalaction is on Twitter

If you are on Twitter, please follow our Twitter account, @coalaction, at!/coalaction. Please look out for our tweets, retweet them, and encourage your followers to follow @coalaction as well.

Our Blog

Keep up with the latest news about our campaigns on the Coal Action Network Aotearoa blog:

3. How our mailing lists work – where to post, where not to post

This Coal Action Network Aotearoa list is an announcements-only list, so CAN Aotearoa can pass on news to you without your inbox getting too cluttered.

You cannot post to this list, so here’s a special plea from your mailing list administrator:


Doing so wastes your time, because your message gets stuck in an approval queue, and our time, because we have to work out where you meant to send it and forward it there instead.

But here’s the good news:

You are welcome, and encouraged, to discuss all aspects of our work on our Lignite Campaign Discussion list. But first, you need to join that list.

To subscribe to that list, send an email to

Then, to post a message to the lignite-campaign-discuss list, email it to

Alternatively, if you’re having trouble joining the discussion list, please email with “Discussion list” in the subject line and we will add you to that list.

If you want to unsubscribe from either list, please email with “Unsubscribe from [name of list]” in the subject line. Please do NOT send unsubscribe requests to the entire list!

Membership of the lignite-campaign-discuss list is not vetted, so you should bear this in mind when choosing what to discuss on the list.

Coal Action Network Aotearoa (CAN Aotearoa) is a group of climate
justice campaigners committed to fighting the continuation of coal
mining in Aotearoa New Zealand.

CAN Aotearoa’s objectives are to:
1. Phase out coal mining and coal usage within 20 years, initially by
opposing new and expanded coal mines.
2. Promote a cultural change so that mining and using coal are unacceptable.
3. Work towards a society where people and the environment are not
exploited for profit.
4. Work towards a socially just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.
Find out more at:
Or join the CAN Aotearoa supporters list by emailing:

Presentations from the Summer Festival Community Day

Five presentations made at the Community Day of the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival are now available online. Please note that some of these (in particular, Sid Plant’s presentation) are large files, and may take a long time to download.

Sid Plant, Keep the Coal in the Hole: An Australian Experience [48 MB Powerpoint file]

Jeanette Fitzsimons, Lignite and the Southland Economy [257 kB Powerpoint file]

Dr Russell Tregonning,The Health Effects of Lignite Coal Mining in Southland and Otago [7.3 MB Powerpoint file]

Dr Peter Barrett, Basic Climate Science and the Threat from Fossil Energy [1.3 MB PDF file]

Dr Shannon Page, Carbon Capture and Storage – Can It Make Coal Clean? [5.5 MB PDF file]

Save Denniston Plateau: Information Evening in Whanganui

Tuesday 21 February 2012, 7.00 pm
256 Wicksteed St., Whanganui


  • Kevin Hackwell – Ecologist
  • Esther Williams – Forest & Bird Society
  • Jonah Marinovich – Talking about his experiences of camping and protesting in and around the Upper Waimangaroa Valley, as part of the Save Happy Valley Coalition campaign against Solid Energy’s Cypress coal mine.

Come along to hear about this amazing area – all welcome!

The spectacular Denniston Plateau is threatened with a 160-hectare open-cast coal mine. If it goes ahead, it will be the largest coal mine on public conservation land.  The government, breaking its pre-election promise, has failed to publicly notify the access arrangement for the coal mine for public consultation.

With its great spotted kiwi, West Coast geckos, kaka, giant land snails and other special animals and plants, the wild Denniston Plateau has been identified by DoC as a priority site for biodiversity protection. Forest and Bird are campaigning for this area to be protected in a reserve.

To send John Key an e-card: 

To sign e-petition:

To print hard copy petition: 

Other ways to help:
Writing to the Minister of Convervation, Hon Kate Wilkinson, asking her to protect the Denniston Plateau in a reserve and notify any access arrangements for public consultation, and contacting MPs and discussing this issue with them.

Email if you want to do some of these together!