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New Zealand’s biggest protest march in living memory by Chuck Baclagon
May 1, 2010, 7:33 am
Filed under: Greenpeace, Volunteers | Tags: , , , ,

Biggest protest march in living memory - March Against Mining

We expected 20,000. We HOPED for 30,000. We got nearly double that. In the biggest protest march in living memory in New Zealand, 50,000 turned out in Auckland to march against Government plans to mine coal and other minerals in national reserves.

When the New Zealand Government announced its intention to open coal mines in the country’s prime conservation land, including some of its matchless National Parks, Greenpeace New Zealand set about mobilizing supporters, celebrities, and opposing politicians to say “no.”

Lucy Lawless, best known for her role as Xena the Warrior Princess, teamed up with Robyn Malcolm, a popular television and theatre actress, to call the decision “19th century thinking in a carbon-constrained world” and created a video of tourist reactions to the proposal in one of New Zealand’s parks.

When New Zealand  prime minister John Key called coal “sexy,”  mockery was inevitable:

These efforts and other voices of opposition turned the issue into one “with the potential to undermine at least some of the Government’s extraordinarily sustained run in the public opinion polls,” according to the Nelson Mail, which warned that “the Government can expect a lot more noise yet as its mining strategy unfolds.”

On the day of the march,  Malcolm said: “For nearly 50,000 Kiwis to turn out and be prepared to speak with one voice, must tell the Government something. And that something is this: we, the people of New Zealand get it; we get the argument, we see what you’re up to and we won’t have it. Our land will always be more important to our identity than some extra dollars in the pockets of mining companies.”

The message from the march was clear: Take heed, John Key, the public will not stand by while you squander the land, reputation and climate of New Zealand.

Click here to view a slideshow of the protest march

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