'Unwelcoming party' held for oil explorers in Wellington

'Unwelcoming party' held for oil explorers in Wellington

Dozens of people took to the water in Wellington Harbour today to protest deep sea oil drilling.

The flotilla of kayakers and paddle-boarders was organised by Oil Free Wellington to oppose oil companies Statoil and Chevron exploring for oil in New Zealand.

It says the world's largest seismic blasting vessel has been contracted by the companies to prospect for oil off the coast of the North Island, and it's due to arrive in Wellington any day.

"We're here to hold this 'unwelcoming party' just to send them a really strong message that they're not wanted here,' says Michelle Ducat.

'Unwelcoming party' held for oil explorers in Wellington

Protesters in Wellington (Newshub.)

Ms Ducat says if the world has any hope for maintaining a stable climate, it needs to urgently move away from fossil fuels.

"We want to tell Statoil and Chevron that it's absolutely not appropriate in this day and age, when we have to protect our climate."

And she says it's up to local communities to protect the climate, as the Government continues to allow for this type of exploration.

"It's nearly a year since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement and yet the Government is still rolling our red carpet to these oil companies even though we know the danger."

Norwegian-based oil company Statoil announced last month it would stop looking for oil and gas Northland, claiming the probability of finding oil was low. The company said opposition to its plans from iwi and environmental groups played no role in its decision.

It said it would shift the focus to its other four exploration permits off the southeast coast of New Zealand.

Auckland Council last week voted to oppose exploration permits in the Northland-Reinga and Taranaki Basins, citing the impact on the endangered Maui's dolphin, the climate effects and the "negligible" economic benefits for the city.

It said if the Government does grant companies a permit to search for oil around Auckland, that in the event of a spill, the polluter would be forced to bear the "entire financial liability" for cleaning it up.