Greenpeace executive director and former Green Party co-leader Russel Norman is set to face court after throwing himself into the sea in front of a massive oil exploration vessel.
Norman, Sara Howell, a Greenpeace volunteer from Wales, and Gavin Mulvay, a kite maker from Ashburton, jumped into the ocean around 50 nautical miles off the Wairarapa coast in front of the 125-metre Amazon Warrior.
The ship, nicknamed 'the beast' is in New Zealand waters seismic blasting for oil.
Greenpeace says their techniques are comparable in sound to an underwater volcano which distresses nearby whales and dolphins.
The group had been following the Amazon Warrior for two days in their crowdfunded ship Taitu.
The trio were arrested under the Crown Minerals Act, and will appear in the Napier District Court in May.
A recent law change made it an offence to interfere with or get closer than 500 metres of an offshore ship involved in oil exploration.
It is believed these are the first charges brought under the legislation.
"We are all very strongly of the view that preventing catastrophic climate change is very important and that's why we got in the water in front of the seismic testing vessel.
"The Government obviously is very determined to protect the oil companies and that's why the petroleum and minerals division of the Government has charged us under the act the Government brought in to stop protest at sea," Dr Norman told Newshub.
"It is an anti-democratic law designed to silence the voice of reason - a collective voice that demands we stop this insane trajectory toward self-destruction on that is drilling and burning oil which drives climate change."
Dr Norman says the charges were laid by the petroleum and minerals division of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
He says it is "significant" the charges were brought by the ministry rather than police.
"Here is the very government department that's promoting fossil fuel development that is trying to stifle protest at sea by people who are trying to prevent catastrophic climate change."