The Southland Times recently ran this article about CAN Aotearoa’s Summer Festival, to be held near Mataura in January 2012:


Lignite mining opponents unite

Opponents of large-scale lignite mining in Southland will converge on a farm near Mataura early next year for this country’s first Keep the Coal in the Hole summer festival.

Mike Dumbar’s farm, just up the road from Solid Energy’s $25 million pilot briquetting plant, will host the four-day event which is aimed at showing solidarity for Southlanders opposed to lignite mining and to build a movement around climate justice.

Coal Action Network spokeswoman Frances Mountier said yesterday it was hoped between 100 and 300 people from throughout New Zealand would attend the event.

“It’s a chance to stand beside those people who say this is not the future we want in Southland and say `you are not alone’.”

The group has always seen the briquetting plant as the thin end of the wedge, Ms Mountier said.

Given the huge lignite conversion projects Solid Energy has planned, coupled with the Government’s push for increased fossil fuel extraction in its energy strategy, there needed to be a united voice of opposition, she said.

“We need to build a strong campaign in the vein of the mass campaigns of years past.”

The festival would include workshops on strategy, information from various groups actively campaigning against coal and training in non-violent direct action, Ms Mountier said.

While most of the activities would be centred on Mr Dumbar’s property, there would be an open day in Mataura.

There would be speakers and discussion groups on issues relating to lignite, as well as people who have been involved in campaigning over the years, she said. Former Green Party co-leader Jeannette Fitzsimons was involved in bringing together some high profile speakers for the day, Ms Mountier said.

Registrations for the festival do not open until later this month but there has been a lot of interest already from people wanting to help. Assistance either beforehand or during the festival, in such areas as transport, catering, childcare and promotions was welcome, Ms Mountier said.

The festival will be held on Mr Dumbar’s Craig Rd farm, just south of Mataura, from January 20 to 24.