Protesters take part in mock oil drilling

Mock demonstration . . . Oil Free Otago member Rosemary Penwarden (left) and fellow protesters dig a hole in the Octagon last Friday to show their opposition to OMV's plan to drill in the Great South Basin. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Anti-oil protesters performed a mock gas drilling in the Octagon last week.

Oil Free Otago and Extinction Rebellion members, dressed in high-vis vests and hard hats, dug a hole in the grass of the upper Octagon to protest OMV’s plan to drill in the Great South Basin.

They aimed to “contrast the stupidity of OMV . . . possibly risking everything in our ocean for a quick profit,” Oil Free Otago spokeswoman Rosemary Penwarden said.

A crowd, which included children, held signs and shouted slogans demanding the company abandon plans to drill.

Protester Jack Brazil told the crowd, “the only thing that will stop OMV drilling in our backyard is people power”.

Once the group had finished digging the hole, a tree was placed in it.

The tree was removed and the grass replaced afterwards.

Ms Penwarden said protesters wanted to make people aware of the risks involved with drilling for gas and oil.

“We’re raising awareness of the fact that OMV, a giant Austrian oil company, is coming to drill off our coast in January.”

She wanted people to understand the negative effects it would have on “our incredible wildlife”, including the yellow-eyed penguins, sea lions and southern right whales.

“It’s not good enough.”

Climate groups in Dunedin and New Zealand were “joining together to tell OMV they are not welcome and they need to leave.”

Ms Penwarden said she was motivated by her two grandchildren Arlo (8) and Adaline (2), and the need to protect the future “for all of us”.

Oil Free Otago member Mandy Mayhem-Bullock said it was “ridiculous” for OMV to drill in the basin.

“We are going to take all the risk for zero profit.”

A police spokeswoman said police attended the event but there were no arrests or issues.