Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter

September 2011

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the September edition of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa monthly newsletter – and a special welcome to those receiving this newsletter for the first time. This is a big newsletter and in it we announce some big news:

* The Coal Action Network Aotearoa Summer Festival, to be held in Southland in January 2012

* A partnership with Lush to deliver the anti-lignite campaign message in 11 Lush stores nationwide during October

* A new and better way of working with our supporters who want to help with our campaigns

As usual, we’ve also got campaign news and developments from around Aotearoa. And for those who are wondering “Hey – what happened to the August newsletter?” someone very sensibly suggested that we date each issue with the month that lies ahead, not the month that lies behind. So this is what would have been the August newsletter under the old arrangement.


Tim Jones

for Coal Action Network Aotearoa


  1. Coal Action Network Aotearoa Summer Festival 2012
  2. The 10-Year Moratorium Campaign
  3. Politics Watch
  4. October anti-lignite actions in partnership with Lush
  5. CAN Aotearoa on social media: Facebook, Twitter, blog
  6. How to donate to CAN Aotearoa
  7. How our mailing lists work – Where to post, where not to post
  8. Want to help with our campaign work? Here’s how.
  9. Climate Justice Aotearoa announcement
  10. Moving Planet Day – 24 September
  11. Climate Tour September-October 2011
  12. West Coast Campaign
  13. Southland and South Otago News
  14. Resources
  15. News

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. Be part of a just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more at:

Or join the CAN Aotearoa supporters list by emailing:

1. Coal Action Network Aotearoa Summer Festival 2012

Come and support the people of Southland who are fighting Big Coal – or rather, Big Lignite. Mike Dumbar has a lovely farm near Mataura. All his neighbours have sold, under pressure, to Solid Energy for lignite mining. Mike has said “NO”!

Mike has welcomed us to camp on his land from Friday 20 to Monday 23 January 2012 (Wellington anniversary weekend).

Mike’s farm is half a km from the site of the pilot lignite briquetting plant.  The two local councils recently consented this plant with no public consultation.  It will likely be under construction in January.

We plan to stand alongside the people of Southland who are worried about health effects, loss of high quality farmland, noise, water pollution, and of course climate change. We want to listen to their concerns, help where we can, and bring the stories of other coal communities, and the issue of climate change, to Southland. We also want to send a message to Solid Energy and the councils that the people are very concerned about their plans.  Plus, we hope a whole lot of people who come from around the country will take the anti-lignite campaign back to their communities.

There will be family camping, live music, fun for the kids, big cook-ups, visits to the lignite mine,  workshops on strategy, information from various groups actively campaigning against coal, training in non-violent direct action, videos, and an Open Day in Mataura where we build relationships with local people and offer speakers and discussion groups on the issues relating to lignite.

Pre-registration is essential and a registration form will be available on our website during October. We are working on shared transport from other parts of the country. In the meantime, mark the dates in your diaries.

Help needed

If you can offer skills such as workshop facilitation, cooking, construction, music, logistics, please let us know by emailing This is a festival for movement-building, so we would love you to be involved.  We will be putting a call out for more specific help closer to the time, but for now, any offers would be very welcome.

Some of us with veggie gardens are planning to plant large crops of veg to mature mid January and bring with us to share. More offers are needed. So much better than frozen or tinned.

We also need money. There is no charge for using the site but there will be for marquees, stage, sound system, equipment, and the hire of the Mataura hall. Perhaps if you would love to come and can’t, you could donate part of what you would have spent to get there? Fundraising events are also welcomed!

Bank account # is

Coal Action Network

Kiwibank account: 38 9011 0484435 00


2. 10-Year Moratorium Campaign

Coal Action Network Aotearoa, along with a number of other groups, has decided to support the 10-year moratorium as a call to be made to political parties during the pre-election period, in the following form:

Call: We call for a ten-year moratorium on new coal mining and new coal-fired power stations in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Reason for the moratorium: Burning coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel activity on the planet. We are facing runaway climate change which will destroy our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and livelihoods. Based on what we know now, we must keep the coal (including lignite) in the ground rather than risk a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Note: In making this moratorium call prior to the 2011 General Election, we are not departing from CAN Aotearoa’s overall position, which is that we call for the phasing out of coal mining and coal usage in Aotearoa/New Zealand within 20 years, initially by opposing new and expanded coal mines.

Now, such a call won’t be very effective without accompanying action, which is where we hope you will come in. We encourage you to put the call for a moratorium to your local election candidates – all candidates, but especially those who may be disposed to listen to anti-lignite arguments. Ask whether they support it. Ask whether their party supports it. Put them on the spot, and ask for answers. You’ll find plenty of supporting material on the CAN Aotearoa website’s Resources page at


We encourage you to print off copies of this material and give it to your local candidates to support your arguments.

3. Politics Watch

As mentioned above, the 10-year moratorium call comes in the context of political parties polishing up their policies for the 2011 General Election. Two significant developments recently:

1) Labour has stated its opposition to planned lignite mining in Southland. First stated by Charles Chauvel on the Red Alert blog, this position has since been re-stated, somewhat more strongly, by their Climate Change spokesperson Brendan Burns in reaction to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s latest statement critical of lignite mining plans:

It’s good news that Labour is opposed. The bad news is that they are putting their faith in a revamped Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to ward off lignite mining. Quite apart from the question of whether an ETS is a good idea in the first place, the chequered history of first Labour’s and National’s ETS schemes, and the obscene level of free emission credit allocations to big emitters allowed even under Labour’s original scheme, suggest that an ETS has virtually no chance of stopping Don Elder and his friends from going ahead.

But Labour has previously shown it is prepared to strengthen an initially weak position on environmental issues when it sees that public support for an environmental campaign is increasing. It happened on mining in National Parks, it’s happening at the moment on opposition to the Government’s motorway-building plans, and it can happen on lignite policy too. That’s where you come in. Get out there, talk to Labour candidates, and tell them they need to come out unequivocally against lignite mining. Back a moratorium – even better, back an outright ban. Whatever happens in November, seeds sown now may bear fruit in three years’ time.

2) National list MP Michael Woodhouse has broken ranks with the Prime Minister and publicly stated his opposition to lignite mining at a meeting in Dunedin organised by Generation Zero. Read the full story here:

A similar stance by Auckland National MP Nikki Kaye against mining in National Parks was the first sign that National was losing its nerve over its plan to mine Schedule 4 lands. Let’s make this the beginning of the end for National’s lignite mining plans! You can help the process by telling your local National MP or candidate about this development and inviting them to follow Michael Woodhouse’s lead.

As a bonus, fire off an email to the Prime Minister and ask him what he thinks of this rebellion in the ranks. See Generation Zero’s great suggestions here:

4. October coal campaign week in partnership with Lush

We get lots of interesting emails at our account. We got an especially interesting one a few weeks ago. It was from cosmetic retailer Lush (, and it was a no-strings-attached offer to host a week of anti-coal actions, public education and signature collection at the 11 Lush stores in New Zealand.

After receiving really good reports from other campaigning groups Lush has worked with here and overseas, we decided to accept this generous offer, and we are now working together with Lush to plan and resource this week, which will take place from 17-24 October. (We’re not unaware that this is the final week of the Rugby World Cup, but we think that there may be people who are not completely focused on the World Cup, even during that week.)

Our next newsletter will have full details of what’s planned during the week, what the elements of the campaign are, and what will follow from it. There will also be an opportunity for volunteers to help with the Lush campaign – watch out for a separate announcement on that.

5. CAN Aotearoa on social media

Our Facebook group

Our Facebook group at!/home.php?sk=group_218300434877031

is now open, so you can join, and get your friends to join too.

A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil:!/pages/Leave-the-Lignite-Save-the-Soil/12917904715925

@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. We are starting to get some real momentum on Twitter now – thanks to everyone who has retweeted and @replied!

Our Blog

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

6. 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:

38 9011 0484435 00

7. 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.

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.

8. Want to help with our campaign work? Here’s how

Can you help with one of these projects?

One of the exciting things that’s been happening to CAN Aotearoa in recent months is that people have been contacting us making specific offers of help, and of course, there are always more good project ideas than we have time to complete. So, we thought we would get organised and try to match people who offer to help, with tasks and projects that need doing. This seems like a great way to build the movement, and if you are someone who’s keen to be involved but doesn’t have time to be in a group in your town, it may be the perfect way to use your talents 🙂

If you are able to help with any of the below, please email us on (Remember to mention which project you’re offering to work on). Francie will be in touch with you to let you know more about what the project involves.

The projects:

ü  Research and write updated content for a web page on coal and New Zealand.

ü  Design a poster for the G-Force rallies which are being held on 24th September

ü  Design in general – this is a talent that is in hot demand!

ü  Powerpoint layout

ü  Write up some ideas for the Kids’ Programme at our three-day summer festival. If you’ve been involved in designing a kids’ programme before (e.g. for a conference or camp), or if you’re willing to do some thinking about what activities could be organised in marquees, and how a roster might work (ratios of adults to children etc) then please get in touch.

ü  Banner painting. CAN Aotearoa has one banner of our logo, in Auckland, but it’d be great to have another couple for other centres.

ü  Website design

ü  Overseeing the re-printing of a booklet

We look forward to hearing from you!

9. Climate Justice Aotearoa launched

Here is the launch announcement from Climate Justice Aotearoa (slightly edited):

What is Climate Justice Aotearoa?

Those involved in CJA got together because we saw a space that needed to be filled in the New Zealand environmental and climate change movement. We exist to provide information on climate justice issues through research, education and communication. To do so, we will be sending out regular blogs about climate justice issues here in Aotearoa, talking to people all around the country and overseas about Climate Justice, exploring the links between environmental and social justice here in Aotearoa and trying our very best to ensure this information is available.

We want to know what is really happening to our environment and why, so New Zealanders can make informed decisions about what can be done about it, and what real solutions and pathways forward can be.

You can read more about us, and climate justice, on our website:

Please sign up to our email list, and send us some feedback on the website – and please ‘like’

our Facebook page

10. Moving Planet Day: 350 Day of Action, Saturday 24 September have organised Moving Planet Day on 24 September. As the Moving Planet website says:

Moving Planet will be a day to put our demands for climate action into motion—marching, biking, skating—calling for the world to go beyond fossil fuels. For too long, our leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved. That era must come to an end: it’s time to get moving on the climate crisis.

Look at the website for what’s going on in your locality – and check out the Southland report below for news of an especially exciting development that has started in Southland but is hoping to spread throughout the country, G-Force.

11. Climate Tour September-October 2011

Dr Jim Salinger, Professor Caroline Saunders and Rod Oram

“Maintaining farm productivity and profits in an uncertain climate”

Although this tour is not directly about coal, these three well-credentialed speakers are concentrating on reaching rural and provincial audiences with a message about the impacts of climate change on farming and farmers. There are events planned from Auckland to Invercargill, with a wide range of destinations in between.

Check out the tour schedule here:

Climate Tour September – November 2011

Encourage your friends and relations to go to the event nearest to them.

12. West Coast news

Denniston mine resource consent granted

Resource consents were granted last Friday for Australian company Bathurst Resources’ proposed 200 ha opencast coal mining operation on West Coast conservation land. The Commissioners seemed quite anguished in their decision and didn’t grant the 35 year term for the Coal Processing Facility, but let the short term economic gains win the day.

They say: “From the evidence presented to us, it is abundantly clear that large scale mining is poised to invade the Denniston Plateau coal reserves which if unchecked, will totally destroy the ecosystems that are present.”

On reading that, you have to wonder why they didn’t choose to stop the mine. It didn’t help that the Department of Conservation wasn’t at the resource consent hearing, so the Commissioners couldn’t fully consider the ecological damage. They also didn’t consider climate change in the ‘general sense’ saying that they lacked jurisdiction. We don’t accept that argument.

The full decision on the Escarpment Mine Proposal resource consents can be found at

The company still needs approval of the Department of Conservation and we’d like to thank everyone who has written to  Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson. We know that the letters have been detailed and diverse, but it seems that you have all received an identical formulaic response. Shame on her.

On the other hand, after one letter to the editor in the Nelson Mail a lovely cartoon was published by Mike Moreu: Scientist 1 – ‘Eureka! We’ve finally discovered how to grow bone… All we need now is a test subject!’ Scientist 2, holding a newspaper headlined DOC SILENT ON DENNISTON OPENCAST MINING PLANS – ‘You want to start with a spine?’

We will all get the chance to tell DoC to grow a spine and protect this high value conservation land from coal mining and when the public submissions process does start it would be fantastic for you all to submit. In the meantime, why not see if you too can inspire an editorial cartoon by writing your own letter?

More information about the Denniston mining can be found on the Forest and Bird website:

Local groups fighting the proposal include West Coast Environment Network, Buller Conservation Group, and the Fairdown Residents Association. For more information, contact

Media and further resources on Denniston

The West Coast Environment Network press release is here:

and the Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s press release is here:

Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Frances Mountier appeared on TV1 news condemning the decision:

“What Future Fossil Fuels?” event in Runanga

The Runanga Area Association is holding a debate about the future of fossil fuels at Runanga Miners’ Hall as a fundraiser for the restoration of the Miners’ Hall. The debaters are Kevin Hague MP and Tony Kokshoorn, and the details are:

Date and time: Friday 23 September, 7.30-9pm

Location: Runanga Miners’ Hall, McGowan Street

Admission: $5 on the door or FREE for Friends @ RMH ($5 conc. $10 individual, $15 joint, $20 whanau/family of 4)

The Facebook event page promises “a buffet feast, brain food and eye candy”!

13. Southland and South Otago news

G-Force Rally on 24 September

Southlanders are gearing up for a G- Force rally – calling all grans, grandads, grey power, grumpies, great aunts, great people .. grandchildren… to come out in force to show how they feel about the lignite mining for a pilot briquette plant on Sat, 24 September, 350.orgday. This ties in with the international day’s theme to ‘Move beyond Fossil Fuels’.

People can talk about their concerns regarding the impact on waterways, aquifers, agricultural land, soils, health, carbon emissions, employment, social impacts… and of course future generations.

Grandparents are encouraged to bring grandchildren or photos to remind everyone of our commitment and responsibility to future generations.

Some fun times will be encouraged with bubbles, kite making and balloons at the gathering place of Otepuni Gardens, corner of Forth and Nith Sts from 1pm on the 24th. The group will walk to St John’s Church hall to write cards and letters to MPs and Prime Minister expressing our concerns. A walk to Wachner Place will conclude with local members of Parliament and political candidates being asked questions about their stand about the proposed lignite mining. This will finish about 3pm.

Invercargill people are challenging other G-Force friends, allies, whanau and organisations to have your own G- Force rally just where you are-in solidarity with us- to send a strong message to the Government that mining dirty lignite is not a sustainable or environmentally acceptable solution to energy needs. CHALLENGE- be the initiators and organise an event appropriate to your place.

Film Screening on 7 October

A film showing, David  Suzuki’s ‘ A Force of Nature’, on Friday 7 October is another awareness raising event, at Centrestage Invercargill, with the G-Force organising group hoping to organise a monthly event around education and action. Check out the website for other events around the country.

Report-back: Balclutha Public Meeting on 8 August

Southland Forest and Bird organised a public meeting with the South Otago Branch on Monday 8 August in Balclutha to discuss the issues and work on actions and responses to the proposed lignite mining in Southland. A panel presented their views on various aspects of the concerns such as soils, agriculture, social impacts, political responses, carbon emissions, health and global warming along with the CAN Aotearoa national campaign.

There has continued to be a steady stream of letters to the Editor, Southland Times. Keep them coming!

14. New resources

Great new resource on lignite from the Medical Students for Global Awareness

The Medical Students for Global Awareness (MSGA) have produced a thorough and detailed position paper called

Lignite mining and processing in Southland New Zealand: a fossil-fuelled disaster for current and future generations

It’s hosted on the Ora Taiao website and can be downloaded at this link:

This paper gives thorough coverage to the likely health effects, and the local and national environmental effects (including greenhouse gas emissions), of lignite mining in Southland. It’s a valuable addition to our campaign resources.

The Climate Movement is Dead – Long Live the Climate Movement!

Here’s a thought-provoking piece from Rising Tide North America on the past failures and future possibilities for the climate movement

“In the aftermath of the COP15 talks in Copenhagen, the inability of the Big Greens, governments, and market approaches to find genuine and sustainable solutions to climate change is undeniable. As author Naomi Klein so aptly observed at the end of COP15 talks, “A particular model of dealing with climate change is dying.”

Find out more here:

The Climate Movement is Dead- Long Live the Climate Movement!

15. News

There has been an upsurge in news about coal, lignite and related issues over the past month – far too many to list in this newsletter. But here are a few selected news items:

On Denniston

Another Coal Hole, Another Snail Fail – Claire Browning:

On Lignite

Lignite-to-diesel plant could cost taxpayers billions – Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment:

… but partners-in-crime Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks and Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder have both dismissed a warning about lignite by Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright as old news:

Thinking Old-Style Big – Bryan Walker:

What do Southlanders think of Don Elder’s claims about lignite mining? –

Robert Guyton:

Solid Energy presses ahead with feasibility study of lignite-to-urea (fertiliser) conversion:

In conclusion…

That last item is a salutary reminder that, while the anti-lignite campaign has had a number of successes over the past month, our adversaries are not sitting on their laurels. They are pressing ahead with their plans. We need to press ahead with ours. We encourage you to keep getting the word out there. Talk to your friends. Talk to your neighbours. Write letters to the paper. Get active about lignite and coal mining on social media.

Most of all, over the next two months, pile the pressure on your local MPs and election candidates. Tell the National Party that they are backing a losing horse. Tell Labour that they have taken a good first step, but that they need to get a whole lot tougher about the measures they will take to stop these projects going ahead. Talk to all the politicians you can, and vote accordingly on Election Day. Then, whatever the outcome, let’s meet up at the Summer Festival and take things from there.