Coal Action Network Aotearoa Newsletter

July 2011

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the July edition of the Coal Action Network Aotearoa monthly newsletter – and a special welcome to those receiving this newsletter for the first time.

This newsletter is coming out earlier than usual because the Coal Action Network Aotearoa organising group is getting ready for one of our six-monthly get-togethers in person. Most of the time, we operate by teleconference, but later this month we’ll be meeting to review the progress of the campaign and look at what needs to be done leading up to next summer.

If you have comments about what we should be focusing on, please send them to the lignite-campaign-discuss list (see below for how to do this).

In the August and September newsletters, expect to hear some news about new aspects of our campaign to stop the expansion of lignite mining in Southland, and the expansion of coal mining in New Zealand.


Tim Jones

for the Coal Action Network Aotearoa



1.      What you can do right now

2.      CAN Aotearoa on social media: Facebook, Twitter, blog

3.      How to donate to CAN Aotearoa

4.      Coming events

5.      Regional news: Southland and south Otago, top of the South, and Auckland

6.      10-year moratorium proposal – latest news

7.      Labour takes a stand on lignite … sort of

8.      Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant resource consent application goes through

9.      Denniston update

10.  News and resources


1. What you can do right now

Ask a friend to join
The first and easiest thing you can do is to ask a friend – just one friend – to join this list. If everyone on the list gets a friend to join, we double our numbers, and double our influence. Just ask your friend to email us at and let us know their name, email address, and preferably the part of the country they live in (region, town or city). Or send us their details (after checking with them first).That’s all it takes.

Rev up your local politicians

It’s election season, and all over the country, small, nimble political animals are hunting out opportunities for publicity, while larger political animals are shaking off their triennial slumber and galumphing across the countryside in pursuit of palatable policies.

That creates opportunities for us, because this is the time of the electoral cycle when politicians of all stripes feel especially inclined to pay attention to their constituents. You live in an electorate, and that means you have an electorate MP – see this helpful map:

There will also be list MPs, and a whole host of candidates, in your area. Your local MP will hold ‘clinics’ – sessions where constituents can turn up and say what’s on their minds. Contact your MP’s electorate office to find out when the MP is holding a clinic in your area. When they ask what’s on your mind, you can tell them that lignite is, and coal, and climate change, and how those things will affect the way you may vote later this year.

Remember – there’s no need to be scared of your MP. This is the time when they are more scared of you.

PS: Labour has just given the first indication of its stand on lignite mining (see story below). You might think that this statement doesn’t go far enough. If that’s what you think, be sure to give that message to your local Labour MP and Labour Party people!


2. CAN Aotearoa on Social Media

Facebook group now open

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.

Our blog

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


3. 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:

Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00


4. Coming events

Friday 29 – Sunday 31 July: National Hui for Action Against Fossil Fuel Extraction, Nga Whare Watea Marae, Mangere, Auckland. See:

Saturday 30 July: Ride for Renewables, starts 12 noon from Toad Hall Motueka (but arrive early for a briefing)

Saturday 6 August: Next meeting of Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction, 2-4pm, the Quaker Meeting House, 113 Mt Eden Road, Auckland. To join or enquire contact:

Monday 8 August: Forest and Bird public meeting,

St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall, 22 Naish St, Balclutha, starts 7pm (see the Southland and South Otago report below)

Saturday 24 September: Moving Planet, nationwide. Look for your community on the site. As an example, here’s the Wellington event:

If there isn’t an action in your town, why not organise one!  You just need to tell people 1) Place, 2) Time, 3) What to bring (e.g. placards), 4) How to get there – bike, walk, skateboard…

We are excited to hear about Grandmothers and Grandfathers, who are concerned about what we are leaving our grandchildren to deal with – especially the new coal proposals – and who are organising G-force events (grandparents, great aunts and uncles, grandchildren) for day of action.

If you have events that relate to CAN Aotearoa’s work that you want us to advertise in the newsletter, please email the details to with “For newsletter” in the subject line. Please give full details of topic, date, time, and location, plus a web link or email address for further information if available.


5. Regional news: Southland and South Otago, top of the South, and Auckland

As concern over the Government’s plans to hack, drill and burn their way to a spurious definition of economic success intensifies, we’re seeing groups spring into action around the country to oppose these plans. Sometimes the impetus for their formation has come from CAN Aotearoa members, sometimes not, but it’s great to see the upsurge in people taking action. Here are three regional reports that show some of the range of what’s going on.

Southland and South Otago news

Actions against the proposed lignite mining at Mataura in Southland are gaining momentum locally.

Since Dr James Hansen’s visit there have been several significant events. There was a string of letters to the paper about the issues associated with the proposal and the decision not to publicly notify re the briquetting plant trial project was a time for indignation by locals.

Local Environment Southland ( ES Regional Council) Councillor Robert Guyton held a public meeting at the time ES was considering the consent application, with about 50 people attending – mainly expressing their discontent at being excluded from having a say as well as stating their concerns around the proposal.

A public forum organised by the Blue greens in Southland with Hon Nick Smith, Minister for the Environment as guest speaker evoked some telling questions about the mining issue, most of which he evaded answering with any facts. His philosophy when asked about the effect of carbon emissions around using lignite was that it would be the country to which we export e.g. China which would have to pay the carbon taxes so it wasn’t NZ’s worry. Several in the audience were shocked at this attitude and expressed their disquiet. Other questions were around protecting our ‘clean, green image’ if the proposals go ahead in the light of our reliance on the tourist industry, particularly in Southland. 

A Chamber of Commerce meeting with Solid Energy hierarchy, Brett Gamble and Gregg Visser presenting their perspectives with time frames around each of their long term proposals for using Southland lignite was attended by several anti- lignite proponents. Questions about the loss of productive farmland and their climate change policy did not elicit satisfactory answers and left them stumbling.

A ‘Grans against lignite mining ‘ is being proposed by Southland people for day on Saturday 24 September with a local focus but hopefully the initiative being taken up nationally through all the networks. 

Southland Forest and Bird has organised a public meeting with the South Otago Branch for Monday 8 August in Balclutha (St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall) at 7pm to discuss the issues and work on actions and responses. The notice is below – all welcome!

South Otago Forest and Bird Branch organised public meeting, Monday 8 August, St Andrews Presbyterian Church Hall, 22 Naish St, Balclutha, (going south out of town- up hill turn in to Lewin St on left and then left in to Naish St), from 7pm to 9pm.

Top of the South news

Top of the South is planning for future events which aim to bring communities into dialogue around our collective energy future. There are exciting possibilities emerging from the Hands Across the Sands action – increased communication, networking, and ideas flowing… Happy to share ideas and resources across the country! Contact

The sinister ship Noble Discoverer, carrying out exploration off the Taranaki coast, was last week officially ‘seeking shelter’ in Tasman Bay. People noticed the oil drilling platform off the coast, frequent movements at dawn, oil tankers and strategic movements within the region related to exploration permits. One has to wonder, why this oil drilling platform needed to cross the Cook Strait in the first place? Where is it going? And what a coincidence that weeks after people across the top of the south said no to offshore oil exploration, an oil drilling ship turns up unannounced.. Keep an eye out off the shores of Canterbury and Dunedin for a rather sinister looking ship called Noble Discoverer.

Good news articles

Hands Across the Sands!

Nelson calls for solar heating

Upcoming event: Ride for Renewables

Saturday 30 July, 12 noon-3pm
Let your presence swell the tide of support for a renewable energy future and opposition to fossil fuel extraction. Ride departs at 12 noon from Toad Hall Motueka but arrive early for a briefing.

We will ride to the Museum and meet with Labour MP Damien O’Connor. This is a family friendly event, all are welcome with or without a bike!

For more info contact
Can’t wait to see you there!

Auckland News: New anti-coal group formed

On 2 July, 30 Coal Action Network Aotearoa supporters from the national email list met in Auckland to form a new anti-coal group. The provisionally named Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction will focus its energies on how best to support the campaign for a coal-free Aotearoa, working locally in Auckland.

The group discussed the following questions:

– Where can we most effectively focus our collective efforts?

– What can we contribute individually?

Jeanette Fitzsimons put the situation in a nutshell for us: the issues we are facing with coal extraction in Aotearoa and some stories of hope for the future. Her notes from this presentation can be found on the Coal Action Network blog:

The great turn-out and obvious energy for action seemed to indicate that there are a lot of people out there waiting for an opportunity to contribute on this issue. Based on this experience, we would really recommend that other regions that haven’t already done so try to set up their own groups.

If you are feeling inspired to call a first meeting, you may well find enough supporters on this email list to get things started in your area.*  What better time to gather our energies and fight for the future of our children and grandchildren! Kia kaha  tātou !

Next meeting of Auckland Action Against Coal Extraction: 6 August, 2-4pm, The Quaker Meeting House, 113 Mt Eden Road. To join or enquire contact:


6. The 10-Year moratorium proposal: Latest developments

As discussed in the June newsletter, Dr Susan Krumdieck’s call for a 10-year moratorium on lignite mining in Southland, initially made on our lignite campaign discussion list, has sparked a lot of discussion both within the list and within the broader climate movement.

Jeanette Fitzsimons, climate activist and former Green Party co-leader, has taken on the job of shaping this call into something which a range of groups and individuals can sign on to, and she is now discussing this with a range of groups. She’s adopted the CAN Aotearoa proposal for this call should be worded, which is:

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

Reason for the ten-year review period: At the end of the initial ten-year moratorium, it is appropriate to review the science of climate change and the technology of coal exploitation to see whether the moratorium should be lifted.

CAN Aotearoa’s position hasn’t changed – we want a complete ban on new coal mining, not just a 10-year moratorium. But a moratorium would be an important step along the way, and we hope this call can be finalised and widely distributed in time to have an effect on the election campaign.


7. Labour takes a stand on lignite … sort of

Labour Party climate change spokesperson Charles Chauvel has made a statement opposing Solid Energy’s lignite mining plans on Labour’s Red Alert blog – although, if you read carefully, he also leaves the door open for lignite mining, since the statement falls short of proposing a ban or even a 10-year moratorium, and talks about controlling such proposals by changes to the ETS, and about the possibilities of new tree planting and CCS to offset emissions.

Anyway, here it is. See what you think! And, if you don’t think Labour has gone far enough, then please call, or write to, or visit your local Labour MP and give them that message.
Mining lignite doesn’t make the cut
Posted by Charles Chauvel on July 22nd, 2011


8. Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant resource consent application goes through

As described in the Southland regional report above, while Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton was holding his “Other Lignite Meeting” in Invercargill on Wednesday, Environment Southland was rubber-stamping Solid Energy’s pilot briquetting plant consent application – a disappointing, but expected, result.

Here’s some media coverage of both developments:

Lignite plant gets council go-ahead (Southland Times):

Former chairman questions Guyton (Southland Times): [This is how the Southland Times chose to headline Robert’s event]

– incidentally, the ‘former chairman’ is Stuart Collie, who really isn’t in a good position to throw allegations of bias at other people – see:

Briquette plant gains all consents (Otago Daily Times):

This is, of course, only the first step in the process Solid Energy plans to follow on its way to building full-scale briquetting, urea and lignite-to-diesel plants. They have a lot of hurdles to clear yet, and the stronger this campaign gets, the higher the hurdles we’ll be able to place in their path, and the less able the Stuart Collies of this world will be to give them a helping hand.


9. Denniston update

West Coast Environment Network Inc reports that Forest and Bird recently launched a campaign for the creation of a ‘Denniston Reserve’ that would offer long overdue protection for upland coal measure ecosystems.  Read about it here:

We are still waiting for the Commissioners to make a decision on Bathurst’s resource consent application for an opencast mine.  To get involved in the campaign to stop this mine on conservation land, email


10. News and resources

Solid Energy is running scared of Environment Southland councillor Robert Guyton. Poor, defenceless Solid Energy!

Essential Southland reading

Robert Guyton’s blog (yes, the man who is Solid Energy’s worst nightmare):

Dave Kennedy’s blog:

Kennedy Graham: Lignite In Wonderland

Kennedy Graham takes us through the looking glass:

.. and finds Hekia Parata, the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources, has turned into Nick Smith in this sequence of parliamentary questions, which begins…

Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM (Green) to the Acting Minister of Energy and Resources: Does she agree with the Prime Minister, who said “companies like Solid Energy are growth companies and we want them to expand in areas like lignite conversion”?

The adventure continues here:

New campaign takes a stand on fossil fuel

Generation Zero is a new campaign calling for a Zero Carbon Action Plan in New Zealand – and they are well aware that lignite mining can’t be any part of a zero-carbon future:

Fracking (Hydraulic Fracturing)

A closely related issue…

France Outlaws Fracking…‘fracking’-shale-for-natural-gas-oil-extraction/

… and an Australian moratorium is extended…

… while the New Zealand Government and its cronies try to frack everything in sight:

… but campaigns have sprung up in opposition:

As Anna Chinn writes in the Otago Daily Times, it’s a “fracking bad idea”:

Our resources pages

We now have a resources page on our blog, which brings together lots of information and pictorial resources you can use in campaigning and to educate your friends. If you do nothing else, check out the photos of overseas lignite mines halfway down the page. This is what we’re trying to stop. This is what Solid Energy wants to unleash on Southland.

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: