Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the Coal Action Network Aotearoa April newsletter.

One of the biggest political issues this year is the Government’s plan to partially privatise a number of State Owned Enterprises, including Solid Energy. This partial privatisation is supposed to be limited to 49% of each company, but as we found out from Solid Energy itself at Parliament on 5 April, there are huge loopholes which will allow overseas investors to hoover up a majority share in future projects.

This newsletter highlights the campaign against asset sales, including the big march in Auckland on 28 April, the Asset Sales Hikoi which has just begun, and a little action we organised at Parliament on 5 April.

But that’s not all, folks! We have caught Solid Energy out asking misleading survey questions so that it can claim that New Zealanders overwhelmingly support its plans; we’ve got reports on that, on speaking tours present and future, and on Solid Energy’s latest bright idea: deliberately starting coal fires underground.

Our regional and local groups report includes news of a very significant event for Coal Action Murihiku, our southernmost regional group, and details of our first non-violent direct action training weekend.

Next month, we’ll be making some changes to the way the newsletter is produced and distributed, which should enable us to produce a more attractive newsletter and also make mailing list maintenance easier for both newsletter subscribers and CANA.

There is also a lot of work going on to improve our provision of information resources, both in print and online. Check out the “Resources” section of this newsletter below, and stand by for some major improvements to the breadth and depth of information we’re making available about the coal industry, coal projects, and the ways we can stop them.


1. The Asset Sales Campaign
2. Solid Energy in the Dock
3. Rod Morris Denniston Tour
4. Bathurst Aftermath
5. Jeanette Fitzsimons Reports On The Denniston Appeal Legal Action
6. Connect The Dots Day on 5 May
7. Regional and Local Group Reports
8. Lyttleton Coal Port stockyard expansion called off
9. Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in the Waikato
10. News Snippets
11. Campaign Resources
12. CANA online: Blog, Facebook and Twitter
13. How To Donate to CANA

1. The Asset Sales Campaign

I mentioned in the March newsletter that the campaign against the Government’s plans to partially* privatise state-owned energy companies, including Solid Energy, would be one of the big political issues this year. (For a concise explanation of why CANA cares about this, check out this video that Jeanette Fitzsimons made for Auckland Coal Action:

This month, a major event in this campaign kicks off: the Aotearoa Is Not For Sale Hikoi. The itinerary is posted below, and is also on Facebook at!/events/170682386382094/ – but please note that this itinerary is subject to change.

We hope that CANA members, and members of CANA regional groups, will take part in many of these events, but here are two in particular to watch out for:

Saturday 28 April: Anti-asset-sales march in Auckland, 3pm, starting from Britomart and continuing up Queen Street to Aotea Square. Full details here: – and Facebook event page:

Join the Auckland Coal Action bloc with their message that our climate is not for sale. Keep Solid energy in public control and keep the coal in the hole! Contact for more details.

Tuesday 8 May: After the hikoi arrives in Wellington on 4/5 May, there will be a week of events on different hikoi-related topics around Wellington. Tuesday 8 May is the “Say No to Coal Mining” day, and we are currently planning for that day. Keep an eye on our Facebook group, Twitter and blog for more details(see item 12 below for how to connect to each of those).

Current Hikoi Schedule

The hikoi starts from Waiora Marae on 24 April. The full itinerary is here, and here is a full list of the protest marches in towns along the way.
Every day has at least one town marching, with the big ones:

Tues 24 April: Kaitaia march 11am
Wed 25 April: Whangarei 3 pm
Sat 28 April: Auckland 3 pm at Britomart
Sun 29 April: Rotorua 3pm
Wed 2 May: Palmerston North 11 am
Thurs 3 May: Porirua 12 noon
Fri 4 May: Te Papa to Parliament

Following that there is a week of protests on various Government policies in Wellington:

Sat 5 May: Rally and Free Concert
Sun 6 May: Constitutional Wananga
Mon 7 May: Say no to Deep Sea Oil demo
Tues 8 May: Say no to Coal Mining demo
Wed 9 May: Say no to Welfare Reform demo
Thurs 10 May: Say no to Privatisation demo
Fri 11 May: Say yes to Constitutional Transformation demo

2. Solid Energy in the Dock

a) Select Committee hearing on 5 April

As we said in a recent press release, “The Good Times Are Over for Solid Energy”.

That press release was sent out in the aftermath of a low-key but effective action Wellington members of Coal Action Network Aotearoa, Generation Zero and other groups carried out at Solid Energy’s appearance for the Commerce Select Committee at Parliament for its annual financial review.

We managed to fill the select committee room with our members and supporters, many of whom had “Keep the Coal in the Hole” signs concealed about their persons. As the select committee members finished their questioning, those people all stood up and held up their signs – while those of us in the back row held up a five-metre banner that read “Keep the Coal in the Hole, Protect The Climate”. The Solid Energy representatives at the Select Committee, including Don Elder (polished as usual) and board chair John Palmer (whose foot I could see tapping nervously on the floor throughout his entire performance in front of the Select Committee) got a big surprise, and a clear message: Solid Energy doesn’t get the chance to put its case unchallenged any more.

Check out our press release, plus photos taken in the aftermath of the action, here:

Greens MP Gareth Hughes, and the Labour members of the Select Committee, both made good use of the opportunity to put the lavishly-remunerated head honchos of Solid Energy on the spot. While Gareth focused on Solid Energy’s environmental track record and on their recent survey of public opinion – see below – Labour drew out the admission that, although the Government had claimed privatisation would be limited to 49%, future investors in Solid Energy could already get around that. Labour’s David Cunliffe explains how in this article:

*So the ‘partial’ privatisation the Government is talking about isn’t quite so partial after all.

b) Solid Energy misleads public with survey questions

At the Select Committee hearing, Don Elder took great pride in proclaiming that Solid Energy’s public opinion survey results showed strong public support for Solid Energy’s planned coal developments.

But Don was being economical with the facts, and you’re not supposed to do that in front of a Parliamentary Select Committee. Some research by CANA has revealed that Solid Energy’s survey was full of misleadingly-worded leading questions.

Now CANA has called on Don Elder to come clean on the full list of survey questions. Check out:
* our letter to Don Elder:
* our press release about the letter:

3. Rod Morris Denniston Tour

After his recent appearances in Auckland, Rod Morris is continuing to tour the country with his stunning photographs of the unique habitat of the Denniston Plateau and of the creatures who live there. He may be coming to a town near you to talk about the rich biodiversity at Denniston and why the Plateau must not be mined.

26 April at 7.30pm: Castle One, Otago University, Dunedin: Rod Morris will be speaking as part of a wider Denniston public meeting in Dunedin. Check out the press release on the CANA blog:

7 May at 7 pm: Renewables Group Motueka, St Thomas Church Hall, 101 High St, Motueka

8 May at 7:30 pm: Forest & Bird Kaikoura. Venue to be advised. Contact: or phone 0274 36 36 36

22 May at 7pm: Whangarei: Manaia PHO Rooms, 28 Rust Avenue, Central Whangarei

The following dates and towns are confirmed, but to find more information on times and venues keep an eye on our blog or join up to the Rod Morris Productions Facebook group:

23 May: Opononi

6 June: Forest and Bird Waikanae-Kapiti/Mana Branch

7 June: Forest and Bird Lower Hutt

11 June: Forest and Bird Levin-Horowhenua Branch

12 June: Forest and Bird Manawatu

13 June: Forest and Bird Marton-Rangitikei Branch

14 June: Forest and Bird New Plymouth – North Taranaki Branch

15 June: Forest and Bird Wanganui

18 June: Main Wellington meeting

4. Bathurst Aftermath

The demo jointly organized by Forest & Bird, CANA, and a number of other groups against the opening of Australian coalminers Bathurst Resources’ Wellington office, and the decision by John Key to open that office, got plenty of good media coverage and is written up here:

But questions remain over John Key’s involvement with Bathurst Resources. Some are still under investigation, but in the guest post on our blog, Liz Springford notes how Nick Smith was fired over a conflict of interest in the same week that John Key flaunted one of his own by attending the Bathurst launch:

5. Jeanette Fitzsimons Reports On The Denniston Appeal Legal Action

We have reported before on the RMA application by Bathurst Resources (aka Buller Coal) to open cast coal mine on the Denniston plateau. West Coast Environment Network and Forest and Bird appealed the decision to the Environment Court, arguing, among other things, that the commissioners erred in deciding they could not consider greenhouse gases in their consent.

Buller Coal has said they want to have that matter decided before the full appeal is heard in the Environment Court as they want to know whether they have to prepare evidence on climate change or not. They therefore applied for a “declaratory judgement” from the Environment Court. Essentially their argument is that the amendment to the Act passed in 2004 which prohibited considering greenhouse gases when hearing an application for an air discharge consent, should apply to all consents. (Denniston does not need an air discharge consent as the coal will all be burned overseas so we argue that amendment does not apply).

This is a test case. If Buller succeed then NZ’s main environmental statute is barred from considering the climate change impacts of any development. The hearing took place on 27 March and we were hoping for a decision by now but at the time of going to press we are still waiting. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, architect of the RMA, appeared for WCENT and argued very powerfully that if Parliament had meant “any consent” it would have said so and the courts are not supposed to make the law, only interpret it.

Buller was joined by Solid Energy who are concerned that the case could make it difficult for them to mine Mt William.

The miners and the councils argued that NZ local government can’t try to control what happens in China and India, where the coal will be burned. In reply we argued that we are not trying to have jurisdiction over China and India, but over NZ mines, which if they go ahead will lead inevitably to the release of emissions overseas in countries which do not have a price on carbon or a Kyoto target. (The intention to control emissions nationally with a carbon tax was the initial reason for the amendment.)

Tom Bennion appeared for Forest and Bird and argued the RMA provides explicitly for indirect effects to be considered where there is a clear chain of causation.

Judge Newhook is currently considering – no doubt you will hear in the news when there is a decision. Whichever way it goes, it could then be appealed to a higher court. In the meantime, the coal is still in the ground and safely out of the atmosphere.

6. Connect The Dots Day on 5 May

On 5 May, is launching its worldwide campaign to Connect the Dots between climate change and extreme weather events. Check out the Connect the Dots website for information about events happening in your area, or organise an event yourself: – and see this short video for what Connect the Dots is all about:

You can search for events in your area here:

7. Regional and Local Group Reports

Southland: Coal Action Murihiku, CAM (Southland) News Update

Developments continue at a rapid pace with the pilot briquetting plant on the corner of Craig Rd and SH 1 near Mataura taking on a new look with machinery delivered and a full blown industrial site becoming obvious.

Dave Kennedy, local Green Party national election candidate, and Robina Lee-Johnston, who farms adjacent to Solid Energy land, are re-organising their PowerPoint presentation and speeches to go to speak to groups about their concerns around lignite mining, such as Lions and Grey Power.

Members of CAM helped organise a Federated Farmers’ meeting in Gore with strategic questioning helping to raise the issues with local farmers. Another meeting is planned. A good follow up in a local community newspaper about an adjacent farming couple’s concerns brought it to the public’s attention.

The official launch of CAM is planned for the evening of Anzac Day at Gore’s ArtSouth Gallery. Our advertising information includes “a unique opportunity to hear this Southland artist’s story and passions about what has driven him to produce so many significant works over a life time. ArtSouth will highlight Wallace Keown’s exhibition with a talk by Wallace about his different styles including some of his protest works such as ‘Mataura Billboard-How Green was my Valley’ painted in 1981- in the Muldoon Think Big era. Mix and mingle with wine and cheese”.

This significant painting with a billboard style- ‘Now showing’ and a green pastoral scene, adjacent to ‘Future attraction’ and a coal mining operation, has been purchased for CAM to use. This is very generous. We are brainstorming ideas in order to use it to its best advantage and will launch it with some controversy and media attention hopefully, to raise awareness and highlight the issues. Numbered prints, postcards, posters…. All being planned. Ideas welcome.

In conjunction with this, another member, professional photographer David Russell, is producing a different art work focus with photographs and a caption printed on to Solid Energy coal sacks. People at Summerfest are featured. They can be strung up at meetings and events and because of their light weight they could be sent to other groups for their use. Watch this space.

It will be a busy day as we are fundraising by splitting wood for sale after Anzac services. The following Saturday a march and activities against Asset Sales will be supported in Invercargill.

Wellington’s Keely Kidner, who is doing a study on linguistics around Southland lignite and Canadian tar sands with the people associated with their protest movements, for her PhD, will be with us over the Anzac Day period.

A local community newspaper published a front page article about the formation of CAM and its members’ concerns and asked Solid Energy for their response. Brett Gamble’s answers had very little substance.

A second year Geography student from Otago chose lignite as an essay topic and sought information from us as well as Solid Energy. Her essay gained an A. Interest is rising about the issues and concerns out there.

Kia kaha, Jenny Campbell from Murihiku


a) Dunedin Cross-Groups Lignite Meeting

On Tuesday 17 April around 20 people attended an initial meeting between the many groups wanting to campaign against the Southland lignite developments. Organisations in attendance included Sustainable Dunedin City, Green Party, Generation Zero, Students for Environmental Action, and the Otago Energy Research Centre, among others. It was a good starting point to establish working relationships between these groups, and it is hoped that this networking will allow the campaign to gain momentum in Otago. For information on the next meeting, or for any feedback on this initiative, contact Tarsh

b) Dunedin NVDA training weekend

CANA and Students for Environmental Action (SEA) are running a nonviolent direct action (NVDA) training weekend, 4-6 May at Waiora Scout Camp, Whare Flat. This is the first of a series of NVDA trainings that CANA hope to facilitate around New Zealand, in order to educate people about the use of NVDA in environmental campaigns, and upskill and empower activists to add these techniques to their tool kit. For more information, or to register your interest, please email

c) Southern Anti-Coal Action (SACA) Update

Rosemary Penwarden writes:

A busy month! SACA and Black Star Books hosted Franklin Lopez and his film End:Civ at the end of March. Over 60 people came to listen to Franklin talk about his experiences making the film, and to watch this commentary on capitalism’s response to climate change (you can find it on Youtube). Food not Bombs provided yummy vegetable soup, and the discussion afterwards would probably have continued all night if we had not been kicked out!

Nicole Foss, ex financier turned sustainable community advocate, swept through Dunedin on her ‘Lifeboat’ tour of NZ, meeting with various groups including Dunedin City Councillors. Her predictions of world financial collapse by the end of the year were an interesting contrast to End:Civ’s scenario. Both events gave us the opportunity to sign more people up to CANA.

More ‘upcycled’ T-shirts of all sizes and colours were printed (“Leave the lignite – save the soil” and “Keep the Coal in the Hole”) at a recent workshop.

d) Dunedin hosts the final hui on the Greens’ “Mining Our Future” Tour

Green MPs Catherine Delahunty and Gareth Hughes have been holding a well-attended and successful “Mining Our Future” Community Tour. The Dunedin event is the final stop on the tour:

Monday 30 April, 7.30-9.30pm, Practice Room, Clubs and Societies Building, 84 Albany Street

See for more on the tour.


Canterbury Coal Action meets on the first Wednesday of every month at the WEA, Gloucester St (next to the Art Gallery) at 7.30pm. The next meeting is on Wednesday 2 May. Please join us. Bring your friends too!

At the moment we are preparing for two upcoming events.

Firstly we are organising for a stall at the Bring Change-Frack No concert this Saturday 28 April from 11am – 4pm at the Riccarton Racecourse. See: . Volunteers are needed for the stall roster. If you can help please ring Sophia: 03 389 9600.

In addition we are organising for the 350 international day of action, themed ‘Connecting the Dots’ for climate change impacts on 5th May. See: We plan to link (join the dots) with many other groups in Christchurch who are similarly concerned about preventing runaway climate change to protect our planet and our collective well-being and survival. If you’d like to get involved please ring John: 03 337 5618.

Please get in contact if you’d like to find out more. Hopefully we’ll see you at our next meeting.

Nga mihi nui
Best regards
Canterbury Coal Action’s blog is at:


a) Next Keep the Coal in the Hole Gathering: 26 April

These informal, two-monthly gatherings arose out of the Mataura Summer Festival and provide a chance to network, educate ourselves, and organise together. The talks this month will focus on ‘a global look at climate.’ All Wellington people who are or want to get involved in anti-coal action are welcome.

Our next gathering is at 6pm on Thursday 26 April. For the address of the gathering and further information, please contact

b) Lower Hutt: An Introduction to the Risks of Fracking: 1 May

This event includes a screening of Gasland, a feature film by Josh Fox, followed by discussion with an anti-fracking activist from Climate Justice Aotearoa on fracking issues closer to home.

7:00pm-9:30pm Tuesday 1 May, Petone Library, 7 Britannia St, Petone, Lower Hutt

Gold coin donation appreciated. Tea & coffee provided.

Baking available as fundraiser for Climate Justice Taranaki
Organised by Climate Justice Lower Hutt folks.

For more info, please contact Michelle Ducat:

No mining companies please!


a) “Just Do It” film screening: 18 May

“Just Do It” film screening
6pm, 18 May
The Kitchen, 14-16 Maidstone St, Ponsonby, Auckland (Top Floor)

6:00 pm start with light refreshments provided. Followed by a short talk by Jeanette Fitzsimons on why we need a coal-free Aotearoa

6:45 pm “Just Do It” film screening

Tickets cost $12 and we strongly recommend booking in advance as the venue only has 60 seats. To book your ticket, contact

Just Do It lifts the lid on climate activism and the daring troublemakers who have crossed the line to become modern-day outlaws.

Just Do It website and trailer:

Event organised by Auckland Coal Action. Proceeds will go to the Denniston campaign

b) Auckland Coal Action April reportback

Auckland Coal Action gained a number of new members in April, great to see! We attended Rod Morris’s talks at the beginning of the month, where we were able to speak briefly about the climate impacts of mining the Denniston Plateau and got a number of new sign-ups from those events.

c) Upcoming activities

Our work for the next few weeks will be to paint banners and placards for the Aotearoa is Not For Sale protest march on 28 April, where we aim to raise awareness of the link between asset sales and climate change. We want to see Solid Energy kept in public control so we can “keep the coal in the hole” and will be marching as a bloc to deliver this message.

We see one of our roles in Auckland as being to fundraise in solidarity of campaigns being carried out in other parts of the country (where they actually have coal mines!). We are organising a screening of the film Just Do It in support of the Denniston campaign. This will be held on 18 May in Ponsonby. Please see the notice above for how to get your ticket.

d) Next Auckland Coal Action planning meeting

Saturday 5 May
1-4pm, Quaker Meeting House
113 Mt Eden Rd
Mt Eden

e) Join us!

We know there are many more Auckland people receiving this Coal Action Network Aotearoa newsletter than are on our local contact list. To get our monthly update and notice of meetings contact and ask to subscribe. OR Come along to our next meeting. New members are always welcome!

8. Lyttleton Coal Port stockyard expansion called off

Prior to the Christchurch earthquakes, the port of Lyttleton was planning a major expansion of its coal stockyard. We’ve recently received word that this coal stockyard expansion has been called off due to earthquake damage:

While the major earthquake damage that Lyttleton has suffered is very sad news, and not the reason we would have chosen for this expansion not go ahead, we are still relieved to see that it is no longer happening. Limiting the number and size of coal export facilities is one way to make it more difficult and more expensive for new and expanded coalmines to go ahead.

However, other coal port expansion plans remain. It now appears that, if Bathurst’s Denniston mine goes ahead, 75% of its coal is planned to be sent via Port Taranaki, and the other 35% via Lyttelton. See for more details.

9. Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) in the Waikato

Solid Energy has started an Underground Coal Gasification plant at Huntly in the Waikato.

Solid Energy has set up a website to explain what this plant does. It’s worth taking a look at the site at – but some translation is required.

What Solid Energy calls “a carefully managed chemical reaction hundreds of metres underground to convert coal into a synthetic gas, also known as syngas, then bring that gas to the surface through a series of wells” actually means setting fire to the coal and collecting the gas that results.

Starting coal fires deep underground? The coal industry has a long history of doing that accidentally, but doing it deliberately is a relatively new development – and, as far as we know, this is a first in New Zealand.

This article from the UK discusses the history of UCG and shows how the process works. The picture it paints is in stark contrast to Solid Energy’s soothing tones:

Huntly residents are understandably concerned. CANA has been in touch with them, and we will bring you more news of the project, and reaction to it, as matters develop.

10. News Snippets

* One of my most vivid memories of the Keep the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival was Queensland farmer Sid Plant telling the story of Acland, the town nearest to him, which was promised riches from mining and was destroyed instead. The NZ Herald has just published an excellent article about Acland: and the moving video “Anzac Day in Acland” is always worth watching and sharing:

* We don’t need to cross the Tasman to see how coalmining destroys communities. Take a trip to Kaitangata in South Otago, or go to Western Southland and visit Nightcaps or Ohai:

* It’s great to see that Invercargill City Council has chosen to heat its pool complex using woodchips rather than lignite:

* Talking of the Summer Festival, it made a big impact on a lot of people. Tarsh Turner wrote this excellent report for Generation Zero’s ClimateTalk blog:

* It’s sometimes easy to forget that we are part of a massive worldwide movement against the mining and burning of coal. Friends of the Earth and Quit Coal have joined with 34 other groups from across Victoria to call for a moratorium on new coal and coal seam gas (CSG) operations in the state:

11. Campaign Resources

You can find lots of campaign resources in one place on the Resources page of our blog at

We have recently uploaded updated versions of:

* The CANA Leaflet:

* The CANA backgrounder on Southland Lignite and the Climate:

Two classic booklets on the theory and practice of nonviolent direct action in Aotearoa/New Zealand are now available as a free download from our blog:

12. CANA online: Blog, Facebook and Twitter


CANA’s blog is at

As well as our latest news, you’ll find pages (shown across the top of the blog) with information and resources you can use. We’ll be reorganising some of this information during the next month to make it easier to find.


CANA has a very active and fast-growing Facebook group at!/groups/218300434877031/

If you’re already a member of the Facebook group, please advertise it on your newsfeed and invite friends to join – and if you’re not on the group, please go to the page and apply to join it.

A Facebook page we encourage you to Like is Leave the Lignite, Save the Soil:!/pages/Leave-the-Lignite-Save-the-Soil/129179047159254

Say No To Fracking in NZ also has a Facebook group:!/groups/saynotofrackingnz/


We are also on Twitter, and we encourage you to follow us there and retweet our tweets (thanks to everyone who has been doing so!):!/coalaction

13. How To Donate to CANA

We reply on your generous donations to keep the campaign going. Here are the account details if you want to donate:

Coal Action Network
38 9011 0484435 00

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. Work towards a socially just transition to a coal-free Aotearoa New Zealand.

Find out more at:
Or join the CAN Aotearoa supporters list by emailing: