Monthly Archives: March 2012

Guest post from Liz Springford: Different strokes for different blokes?

A guest post from Wellington based climate advocate Liz Springford, written the day after PM John Key officiated at the opening of Bathurst Resources’ New Zealand office.

Our Prime Minister has said it’s not acceptable for the Hon Nick Smith to write a letter of support for his friend Bronwyn whose case was being handled by a government agency, Nick has to resign his portfolios.

But this same week our friendly Prime Minister officiated at the opening ceremony of the new offices of Bathurst Resources. This mainly Australian-owned company’s case to open up Denniston conservation land to large scale mining is currently being handled by a government agency – and the Environment Court. Doesn’t the fact that the case is being heard by the judiciary make this public show of political support worse?

The Hon Nick Smith’s worst breach of public responsibility was to lead a totally inadequate response to climate change, endangering the lives and well-being of most New Zealanders alive today.

Again, the Prime Minister has not only failed to support his Climate Change Minister to lead scientifically responsible action, but is now encouraging the expansion of global emissions by opening up new mines, deep sea drilling and other dangerous fossil fuel escalation.

So tell me again, why was it that Nick had to go?

Coal Action Network Aotearoa March Newsletter

Kia ora koutou,
Welcome to the Coal Action Network Aotearoa March newsletter.
This is a big issue, but that’s because there is a lot going on! Since the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival in January, reported in our February issue, anti-coal action groups have sprung up around the country, and the heart of this issue is reports from groups and meetings from the north to the south of the country.
We also report on the protest we helped organise against John Key opening the Wellington offices of Bathurst Resources, which is the Australian mining company that wants to open a massive new coal mine on the Denniston Plateau – a protest that made sure our feckless Prime Minister and his mining industry cronies got the message loud and clear.
At the national level, the Coal Action Network Aotearoa organising group met earlier this month to plan our programme of work for the next six months. There is a huge amount coming up, and we can’t cover all of it in this newsletter, but in this issue we highlight two key campaigns that will have a high profile this year: the campaign against the Government’s planned sale of state assets, including Solid Energy, and the campaign against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a nine-country agreement currently being negotiated under conditions of great secrecy which could make it very difficult to impose environmental standards on any foreign investor in Solid Energy.
We have also got a roundup of news about fracking, reports of recent events, and how you can support the production of further copies of the “Just Lignite” booklet.


  1. Join us on Facebook
  2. How to Donate
  3. The Network Goes Nationwide – news and reports from north to south
  4. The Denniston Campaign – including the Bathurst Resources protest
  5. Coming Events
  6. Keeping Solid Energy Under Control – including asset sales and the TPPA
  7. “Just Lignite” Booklet Needs Your Support
  8. Fracking Roundup
  9. News Snippets
  10. Campaign Resources

1. Join Us On Facebook

CANA has a Facebook group at!/groups/218300434877031/
The group currently has about 340 members, with more than 60 joining in the last week! Given that the Newsletter mailing list is over 1500 strong, we think there are many of you out there who might want to join in and get the updates that happen in between newsletters – and to join the conversation.
There are two ways to join:
1)  If you’re already a member of the Facebook group, advertise it on your newsfeed and invite friends to join
2) if you’re not on the group, go to the page and apply to join it.
We hope to see you there!
For Those Who Don’t Use Facebook…
Two other ways to get updates on what we’re doing between newsletters are to:

  1. Follow our Twitter account at!/coalaction
  2. Follow our blog at

2. How To Donate

We reply on your generous donations to keep the campaign going. Here are the account details if you want to donate:
Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00 

3. The Network Goes Nationwide

One of the best outcomes of the Summer Festival has been the many new regional groups that have formed to oppose the expansion of coal mining and burning, both in their local areas and nationally, to join existing groups in Southland, Dunedin and Auckland. We won’t always have space to feature all these groups each month, but in this issue we want to introduce you to each group.

Auckland Coal Action is one of the longest-established regional groups, and they meet regularly. Here are ACA’s contact and next meeting details:
Come along to the next meeting of Auckland Coal Action
Saturday 14 April
Quaker Meeting House
113 Mt Eden Rd
We usually meet on the first Saturday of every month, except that in April this falls on Easter weekend.
If you would like to join the Auckland campaign for a coal-free Aotearoa, or think you can help in some way (even if you can’t attend meetings) please get in touch at 
About Auckland Coal Action: “We recognise 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.”

Two meetings on coal and related issues have been held in Whanganui recently: one on Denniston in the leadup to the Denniston BioBlitz (see below), which attracted about 50 people, and one in mid-March on fracking.
Kathryn Goodman has done a great job organising these meetings, and we hope that there will be more to come. If you are in the Whanganui/Manawatu region and would like to know more, or can help, please contact Kathryn:

Wellington people who attended the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival got together with other Wellington members of CANA to report back from the Festival and discuss strategies and actions for the year ahead on 1 March. The first of these actions was the protest against the opening of Bathurst Mining’s new Wellington office, reported below.
The Wellington list plans to keep in touch, get involved in organising actions, and meet every couple of months. If you’d like to get involved, please contact

Rachel Eyre reports:
‘Canterbury Coal Action’ Meeting Summary: 7th March 2012, 7.30pm @ WEA
“After the Summer Festival the Canterbury Group is keen to get involved in assisting the culture change away from coal.
At our first meeting we discussed what the group could do to target Solid Energy; to draw attention to the absurdity of its plans.
We also plan to up-skill members to be able to work with community groups and to create or gather resources for sharing e.g. DVDs, songs, films, etc.
Finally, we are close to agreeing a summary of our group purpose and objectives that support the CANA national objectives. This will be available on our new blog shortly:
We are hoping to hold our meetings first Wednesday in the month 7.30pm at the WEA in Gloucester Street, Christchurch. Next meeting 4th April. For further information please contact

About 70 people attended a public meeting in Washdkye, just north of Timaru, entitled “Keep the coal in the hole and out of Washdyke”:
Here is the report of the meeting in the Timaru Herald:
If you would like to know more or get involved, please contact Transition Timaru:

Rosemary Penwarden from Southern Anti-Coal Action reports:
“Eleven of us met for a meal and cuppa at Clubs and Socs, Otago Uni, Dunedin, on Monday 27 Feb. It was cool to see familiar faces from the Summerfest, and to meet others who couldn’t come to Mataura. We planned a second meeting on Thursday, 15 March at 6pm, Clubs and Socs, to talk strategy.”
On Tuesday 27 March, 6-10pm, SACA is hosting Franklin López, director of End:Civ, at Clubs and Socs Everson Lounge, for film, discussion and food. End:Civ, a film about the role of direct action in climate justice campaigns, toured last year with Canadian anarchist/academic Ron Sakolski and poet Sheila Nopper. Franklin López’s current film project ‘Stop the Flows’ involves interviewing activists from all over the world to show that wherever there is fossil fuel extraction there is resistance. He is keen to include New Zealanders in this project.
You can find more info and watch the latest chapter here:
Here is a link to our Facebook event:!/events/200237373410891/
We also discussed holding regular film evenings in our area, involving other groups but open to the public, with a mind to building awareness in the wider community.
SACA has T-shirts for sale – recycled, locally printed – “leave the lignite – save the soil” and “keep the coal in the hole”, available from Black Star Books, Dunedin.

Jenny Campbell reports:
“The relationship building, mutual support and sense of purpose which came to Southland as a result of the national ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ Summer Festival weekend in Mataura, in January has helped build up our local group and solidarity for action!
We have decided to meet monthly, plan a few events strategically to conserve our energy for the long haul and endeavour to bring people in to our group to share the load and offer their skills. Our name after much consideration is CAM – Coal Action Murihiku.
Waimumu Field days, a huge agricultural event similar to Mystery Creek (estimated 35,500 people there), in mid-February became a low key event for us due to only a few people being available on the 3 days – many were staffing other stalls. Excellent thought provoking, poignant and factual flyers were created by Zella Horrell with themes of farming concerns/issues but leafletting of 6000 vehicles as planned was thwarted with a notice forbidding it – at a fine of $1000! This was understandable, as litter had been an issue in previous years. However several of us wandered the site handing the leaflets out and having intentional conversations which were very productive and probably more use as an awareness raising method.
An Environment Southland Public Forum saw Dave Kennedy, local Green Party national election candidate, and Robina-Lee Johnston who farms adjacent to Solid Energy land speak about their concerns around lignite mining to the ES Councillors for 25 minutes in February. They had been allocated 10 minutes, but councillors wanted to hear more.
Robina-Lee showed a power point with photos of mining in Australia, where she spent time last year, as well as her own situation on the farm she and her husband owns near Dolamore Park – a native bush area. The photos were very powerful and left a strong impression. One Councillor was heard to comment about not needing ‘Club Med’ there in reference to Solid Energy’s recreational lake concept!
March saw a fundraising trail bike ride on Johnston’s property with a small but enthusiastic group enjoying fine dry conditions in the morning followed by a wet and muddy course in the afternoon – which appealed to many, though! A sumptuous barbecue lunch in the woolshed allowed for lignite resources to be shared, photos of mines discussed and pertinent discussions developed. Proceeds of about $300 was raised by the Lower Mataura Landcare group for use by local Enviro schools and CAM.
A public talk by the author of the ‘Just Lignite’ booklet, Rosemary Penwarden, to the women’s group Desert Air ( aptly renamed Desert Storm for the day) along with some visitors in Invercargill, challenged us all. Rosemary spoke about her concerns for future generations and her passion around the issues, particularly climate change and lignite, in the light of the birth of her grandson recently. People there shared what is happening in Southland relating to environmental issues and their responses, which gave her an insight in to the commitment and energy here.
Rosemary’s talk gave people a lift, raised their hope and provided a positive focus through her sharing her vision for a better future we are all responsible for. ‘The power of one’! Thank you Rosemary.”

4. The Denniston Campaign

Australian mining company Bathurst Resources has relocated to New Zealand and is trying to open a massive new coalmine on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast, with the eager support of the current Government. A coalition of groups, among them Coal Action Network Aotearoa, is working to oppose this mine because of its effects on the local environment, on biodiversity, and on the climate. There have been two significant events in the campaign this month:

a) Bathurst Wellington office opening protest
John Key officiated at the opening of Bathurst’s new Wellington office on Wednesday 21 March, and a coalition of groups including CANA, Forest and Bird,, Generation Zero, Ora Taiao, ECO and WWF-NZ organised a gathering on the pavement outside to let Bathurst know what we thought of their mining plans, and let Mr Key know what we thought of his public support for those plans. Here is my report from the CANA blog: Bathurst Protest A Big Success

b) Denniston BioBlitz
The Bathurst protest was not the only Denniston-related event this month. On the weekend of 3-4 March, Forest and Bird held their Denniston BioBlitz to find as many new species as they could on the plateau. Now you can see the Denniston BioBlitz film, which shows the wonderful biodiversity of the Denniston Plateau, and contrasts it with the ugliness of the Stockton mine:

5. Coming Events

In addition the events listed above under “The Network Goes Nationwide”, look out for these events:
27 March: The declaratory judgement on whether the courts can consider climate change under the Resource Management Act will be heard at 10 am on 27 March at the Maori Land Court in Christchurch.
5 April: On the morning of 5 April State Owned Enterprise Solid Energy accounts for its performance in the year to June 2011 to Parliament’s Commerce Committee. The session is open to the public (to observe, not to speak).
28 April: Anti-asset-sales march in Auckland, 3pm, Britomart

6. Keeping Solid Energy Under Control

Solid Energy is already bad, bad news for our environment and the world’s climate. It’s a disgrace that a fully state-owned corporation is allowed to behave the way Solid Energy does, and that the Government hides behind Don Elder when pressed to take responsibility for Solid Energy’s actions.
Nevertheless, it would be even harder to control Solid Energy if it was partially or fully privatised, or if foreign investors in Solid Energy could sue a future New Zealand Government that tried to impose new environmental regulations, or a greater share of the cost of their greenhouse gas emissions, on the company.
We face both those threats at the moment. One is from the Government’s planned sale of asset sales. The other is from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, a new and sweeping multilateral agreement, covering trade, services, investment and a whole lot of other issues, which is currently being negotiated by the US and eight other countries, including New Zealand.

a) Campaign to oppose asset sales
The campaign against state asset sales has kicked into high gear with the announcement that a coalition of groups fronted by Grey Power and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, with support from the Labour Party and the Green Party, has initiated a “Citizens Initiated Referendum” which will give New Zealanders the chance to say what they think about the Government’s plans to sell off up to 49% of four state-owned energy companies, of which Solid Energy is expected to be the last to be sold off.
The referendum will not be binding, and it will be some time before it can be held – the wording has to be agreed with the Clerk of the House, and over 300,000 valid signatures have to be collected, before it can go ahead – but the whole referendum process will be highly embarrassing to the Government as it goes about hocking off the nation’s resources.
CANA will be among the groups encouraging the collection of signatures, and we will bring you more details of this. For the moment, though, keep a lookout for more details of the referendum and of other actions against asset sales, including the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale Hikoi and (if you are on Facebook) the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale Facebook Page.

b) Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement
You can find out all about the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, including the investor-state dispute resolution provisions which, if included in the agreement, could allow foreign investors in Solid Energy to sue a future New Zealand Government that imposed tougher environmental regulations than its predecessors, at the TPP Watch website, with a detailed commentary on environmental and climate change issues in relation to the TPP.
Here is a list of cases brought by investors against national governments under other US “free trade” agreements. There are a lot of them:
Want to know what you can do to oppose the TPPA and such provisions? Check out your options here:

7. “Just Lignite” Booklet Needs Your Support

The Social Justice Commission of the Anglican Church published the information booklet “Just Lignite”, written by one of our CANA organising group members, Rosemary Penwarden from Waitati.
This has been distributed to people for free, thanks to the Commission.
1800 were printed and they were so popular that another printing has been called for by people and groups who have found this an invaluable resource when raising the many issues about the possibility of large scale lignite mining in Mataura, Southland .
However costs are an issue, so feedback to the Commission on the usefulness of the resource would be very helpful.
It would help hugely if  you could take a minute to send an email to Commissioner, Rev’d Dr Anthony Dancer at  or phone 04 472 2713 (Wellington).
This could state how useful/ helpful/effective you have  found the booklet if you got the chance to read it OR say you would like one if there is a reprint, and even mention other places you could distribute it.
Thank you in anticipation of your action to help.
Rangimarie, Jenny Campbell

8. Fracking Roundup

The issue of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) as a method of mining hydrocarbons is gaining a very high profile at the moment, with coverage on two major media channels last weekend.
Fracking is usually discussed in terms of shale oil and gas production, but it can also be used to mine coal in the form of producing coal seam gas – a process that results in the release of methane, which is a much more potent (though also shorter-lived) greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
We don’t have space in our newsletter to cover all the news from the anti-fracking campaign, but here are a few links and events to watch out for:
Anti-fracking website:
“Say No To Fracking NZ” Facebook group:!/groups/saynotofrackingnz/
Public meeting on fracking in Canterbury: Rolleston Community Centre, Rolleston Drive (near New World), Sat 31 March, 7.30pm.
– this meeting includes a showing of the documentary The Gas Rush, which can also be viewed online at
Gareth Hughes’ questions in Parliament recently on why the Government won’t except a moratorium on fracking in New Zealand makes interesting viewing:

9. News Snippets

Nelson Mail report on Sid Plant (belated Festival report):
Second slip in a year hits Nightcaps mine:

10. Campaign Resources

Two classic booklets on the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action in Aoatearoa/New Zealand are now available as a free download from our blog:
An authoritative report on the health effects of coal from Physicians for Social Responsibility:
Top climate scientist James Hansen tells the story of his involvement in the science of and debate over global climate change. In doing so he outlines the overwhelming evidence that change is happening:
Jeanette Fitzsimons speaks out on asset sales for Auckland Coal Action:

Bathurst Protest A Big Success

John Key decided that opening the new Wellington headquarters of the Australian mining company that plans to open a massive new coalmine on the Denniston plateau is the sort of thing a New Zealand Prime Minister ought to do. A whole lot of people turned up last night in downtown Wellington to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that we didn’t want a bar of Bathurst Resources, the Denniston Mine, or National’s support for coal mining and contempt for the environment and the climate.

A coalition of groups including Coal Action Network Aotearoa organised the protest and groups including CANA, Forest and Bird, and Generation Zero were well represented, as were the Green Party with several MPs, the Labour party and the Mana Party.

According to our headcount, 230 people came along. I was impressed by the energy of the crowd, and by their ability to keep their energy levels up for 90 minutes in the case of most people, and over 2 hours for those who stayed right to the end to farewell Mr Key (about 30 of us). We had a range of excellent speakers from Forest and Bird, CANA, the Green Party, (and apologies to other groups I may have missed out) and some well-led and determined chanting.

Bathurst were sufficiently spooked to release a press statement earlier in the day painting themselves as the “good” coalminers, in contrast to the wicked, lignite-mining Solid Energy. They didn’t mention the close ties they already have with Solid Energy in other areas.

Here is some media coverage of the protest: Radio NZ, TV3, Stuff

And here is Mike Smith’s excellent video of the protest:

A good-humoured but passionate crowd, some choice banners and placards (see the video) and a location with great acoustics. John Key, Bathurst Resources, and the mining industry hangers-on who attended the opening got our message loud and clear.

– Tim Jones

Show John Key Your Opposition To Coal Mining On Conservation Land!

Next Wednesday 21st March, 5 pm, 1 Willeston Street, Downtown Wellington John Key will officially open Bathurst Resources’ new New Zealand office. Bathurst Resources plan to develop New Zealand’s largest open-cast coal mine on conservation land and we plan to oppose it every step of the way.

Join Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Forest and Bird, Greenpeace, 350, Ora Taiao, Generation Zero, and other concerned groups and individuals from around the country to say ‘NO Mining Pure NZ’.

In May 2010, over 50 000 people marched up Queen Street in Auckland to protest the Government’s proposal to open up National Parks and other protected areas, after which the government executed a remarkable backdown and committed not to mine in National Parks and other significant conservation areas protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.

They also stated that “significant applications to mine on public conservation land should be notified”. In November 2011, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson advised that the application for Australian-owned Bathurst Resources to have access to mine the fragile and unique Denniston Plateau will not be publicly notified.

Bathurst’s proposal for a resource consent to mine coal on the Denniston Plateau on the West Coast is currently under appeal to the Environment Court. This proposal is the thin edge of Bathurst’s wedge which would see a unique ecosystem destroyed and the volume of coal exported by New Zealand increase by 40% and more in the future if we don’t stop this.

So bring your placards and help give John Key and Bathurst Resources our simple message: “Keep the coal in the hole”.

Urgent request for submissions

Kia ora koutou,

Solid Energy have proposed another huge mine on Mt William on the South Island’s West Coast. Submissions close Monday 19th March.

We would really like as many people as possible to submit against the mine because of its climate change impacts (and any other impacts that you wish to cover). We are therefore making this request of all our supporters and urge you to pass it on to others who may be interested as well.

We have included the following information to make it as quick and easy as possible for you to complete a submission:
1. A simple template for the submission
2. Ideas for points to include.
3. Extra information from Lynley Hargreaves of West Coast ENT as well as their draft submission.

You can email your submission to the West Coast Regional Council ( and it also needs to be served on Solid Energy ( attn Ruth Bartlett).

Thank you

Coal Action Network Aotearoa

1. Your submission can be very simple. It can just follow this template:

Submission to West Coast Regional Council and Buller District Council:
Mt William North Mining Project
Resource Consent numbers:
RC11/132A, RC11/132B

Submission by: [Insert name or organisation here]

Address for service:
[Actual address]
[Phone number/s]

1. This submission opposes the whole of the application.

2. [Organisation name or “I”] contend that the proposal will adversely affect the environment in a way that is more than minor. [My /Our] specific concerns include:
– Climate change effects
[-Insert other concerns you have here, e.g. loss of ecosystem, water pollution]

3. [Include a paragraph or more outlining your concerns regarding coal and climate here, in your own words. You may wish to use information from: If you are short of time, you do not need to include this paragraph]

3. [I/We] seek the following decision from the consent authority:
: Decline the application in its entirety

4. We [wish / do not wish] to be heard in support of our submission. To reduce cost and inconvenience to all parties, we ask that the District and Regional council consent hearings be heard together.

[Name, signature, organisation]

2. You may like to include some of the following points:

  • Burning and mining coal is the most efficient and fastest way to bring about disastrous climate change
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) represents the major portion climate changing greenhouse gases.
  • Coal emits 29% more CO2 per unit of energy than oil and 80% more than natural gas. The long term costs of coal seriously outweigh any short term economic benefits.
  • Coal mining has serious health implications for workers and locals, including respiratory illness from coal dust.
  • Environmental impacts include waterway contamination by toxic levels of heavy minerals such as mercury, aluminium, manganese and zinc, as well as propagation of sulphuric acid called Acid Mine Drainage. This severely degrades water quality and is toxic to aquatic life forms poisoning and smothering them with deposits of heavy minerals.
  • Coal mining cannot be seriously considered if New Zealand is to maintain its reputation as ‘clean and green’, nor its commitments to international climate change agreements.

3. Further information from West Coast ENT:

Hello everyone,

Submissions are due on Solid Energy’s proposed Mt William North mine at 5pm this Friday (since extended to Monday 19th). You can email your submission to the West Coast Regional Council ( and it also needs to be served on Solid Energy ( attn Ruth Bartlett).

Your submission should state whether you oppose all or part of the resource consents that have been applied for, and whether or not you wish to be heard at the hearing. Usually you include your name, address, email and phone number.

The proposal is adjacent to the planned Happy Valley mine, covers 243ha, and involves about five million tonnes of coal. This is about the same size as the proposed Escarpment Mine on the Denniston Plateau to the south.

If you need more info you can download various documents at the West Coast Regional Council site

All the best,
Lynley Hargreaves

The West Coast ENT draft submission is here [PDF file].

Classic New Zealand booklets on nonviolent direct action now available to download

Part of the preparation for running a nonviolent direct action campaign is to help participants become familiar with the underlying theory, strategy and practice of nonviolent direct action.

In the 1980s, New Zealand nonviolent direct activist and nonviolent action trainer Allan Cumming wrote two classic booklets on the subject, How Nonviolence Works and Understanding Nonviolence.

We’ve worked together with Allan to produce a combined edition of these booklets, with a new introduction. We made this available to participants in the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival, and now we are making it freely available as a PDF download. We think it will be a vital resource, not only for this campaign, but for other environmental, climate justice and social justice campaigns: (PDF file, 4.2 MB)

We also have a print version available for $5 plus postage & packing – please contact if you would like a print copy.