For the non locals, Fonterra is a Cooperative Dairy company that processes milk. It is owned by farmer/shareholders, and is one of the biggest companies in New Zealand. New Zealand no longer makes money from tourism, and the previous Labour led government agreed with the Greens to ban further oil and gas exploration.
The same prime minister (Ardern) has just proclaimed a climate emergency. And then this happens.
In the original protest a daily train, apparently usually carrying about 28 wagons of coal, and some other goods, had been due to pull out of the Dunedin station at 7.30am.
Protesters said that as the train was travelling at very low speed towards the railway crossing north of the railway station, shortly before 7.30am, a group of flag-carrying protesters advanced close to the tracks in front of the train to alert the driver.
When the train stopped, another group of protesters locked themselves to the tracks in front of the train, preventing it from moving, and later a group of seven protesters, carrying placards climbed aboard two adjacent coal wagons towards the rear of the train.
Other protesters joined this second group, on the platform, and continued to celebrate the protest, including with Scottish piping.
Environmental Justice Otepoti member and a media liaison person for the overall protest group Fiona Clements said today’s protest action was ‘‘very personal’’ and was linked to her Kai Tahu whakapapa (ancestry).
‘‘My whakapapa is on the line, being carted off like carbonised bones, no longer of flesh but stone,’’ she said in a printed statement distributed by protesters.
She had ancestral links to the Takitimu Mountains overlooking Bathurst’s coal mine, but the land was being desecrated by ‘‘carving it out & burning coal in Fonterra’s factories’’.
One of the protesters, 79-year-old Michael Fay, said he was “simply doing what my conscience demands”.
“I’m here for these young people right here on the track beside me. It is morally unacceptable to do nothing while their future is flushed down this very [railway] line.”
Ric Carson, a protester helping with liaison with the police, said that the coal train symbolised the continuing use of coal for industrial agriculture, despite the recent declaration of a climate emergency.
There had been extensive discussion about agricultural emissions, but insufficient awareness of the role of fossil fuels in supporting industrial agriculture, although now the right thing to do was to leave coal in the ground.
The Luddites have taken the virtue signalling of the Prime Minister and decided to turn this into protests — or are using it as an excuse. They forget that (a) cows have to be milked (b) unprocessed milk is generally discharged by the farmer or factory into waterways because there is no other option and (c) we have to see things like milk to get things they like.
Such as taxes that pay for their benefits.
This will end badly.