New Greenpeace vessel key to ‘do or die’ battle against oil industry

Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel in front of Taitu ... “we’re focused right now on the immediate oil campaign.” Image: Nick Young/Greenpeace NZ

By Kendall Hutt in Auckland

In light of news of President Donald Trump’s executive order today — undoing integral climate change policies implemented under former President Barack Obama — Greenpeace New Zealand has brought forward the timetable for its new boat.

Greenpeace New Zealand’s executive director, Dr Russel Norman, says the boat, recently named Taitu, will aim to be out on the water next week.

“The naming ceremony is on Saturday, so we’re hoping to head off sometime after that. It’s all weather dependent.”

Norman would not give an exact date when pressed, however, in order to preserve the element of surprise.

“Of course, we’re not going to reveal all of our tactics.”

Norman says Taitu, formerly the MV Friendship, will be used to confront the Amazon Warrior, and therefore big oil, led by the “CEO of the global oil industry” – Trump.

Norman explains this is because we are “in a war for the survival of humans and civilisation” in the face of a global climate crisis, a fight Greenpeace “takes extremely seriously”.

“It’s so we, our kids, the people of the Pacific, have a future.”

‘First mission’
The world’s largest seismic surveying vessel, the Amazon Warrior is currently in New Zealand searching for oil.

Greenpeace campaigner Steve Abel echoes Norman’s statement, saying Taitu’s “first mission” is to confront the 125-metre ship, here on behalf of international oil giants Statoil and Chevron.

“The main thing we’re focused on right now is the immediate oil campaign.”

The Amazon Warrior is currently surveying the Wairarapa to Wellington Basin, and does so by blasting the sea floor every 8 seconds with compressed air guns.

At 200 decibels per blast, Greenpeace has raised concerns about the effects on whale and dolphin populations in the area.

Abel says it is therefore important to “get out there”.

“It’s really important for us to send that message that that exploration is not welcome here and those guys have been out there for weeks and months now seismic blasting the ocean, which both torments whales and dolphins, but also they’re looking for oil we can’t afford to burn.”

The newest member of Greenpeace’s fleet, Taitu … purchased through crowdfunding. Image: Nick Young/Greenpeace NZ

The newest member of Greenpeace’s fleet, Taitu was bought last week after supporters crowdfunded $100,000 in just 7 days.

Greenpeace received around 3000 suggestions for a new name after it put out a call for public submissions, with the country voting on a final three up until midday today.

‘The People’s Boat’
Abel says the purchase of the boat entirely through crowdfunding and ‘people power’ reflects an important part of its identity and makes the nickname ‘The People’s Boat’ apt.

“It’s a real affirmation of public support for what we’re doing and it also shows how passionate New Zealanders are about looking after our oceans and our coastlines and our environment in general.”

Abel says the 15-metre kauri-hulled boat has led a relatively quiet life until now, although much of its 81-year history remains relatively unknown.

“It must have done all sorts of things and we’ve still got to find out exactly what all of those things are. We’re getting bits and pieces of information from everywhere.”

Abel says Greenpeace is therefore still “piecing together the history”, but does know it was a postal delivery boat in Queen Charlotte Sound, ferrying mail and people around the Sound.

Greenpeace also understands the MV Friendship may have worked as a pilot boat in Wellington, guiding larger ships into port, as it was built as a pilot boat for the Marlborough Sounds.

Tradition, legacy
The purchase of the vessel also marks a bit of a Greenpeace tradition, Abel says.

“What it means to us, I guess it’s a boat in the strong Greenpeace tradition of getting old boats and repurposing them.

It’s incredibly exciting to have a boat like this as part of the Greenpeace New Zealand fleet. We figured we need to have our own boat down here.”

Painting the rainbow on the new Greenpeace fleet member – Taitu. Image: Nick Young/Greenpeace NZ

Former original Rainbow Warrior first mate Martini Gotjé says this is a first for Greenpeace New Zealand.

“It’s not very often a national office buys its own boat. It’s new, especially for New Zealand.

“It’s good to see.”

Both Abel and Gotjé hope to see Taitu have a legacy, like the Rainbow Warrior before it.

“Any Greenpeace boat has to build up its legacy,” Gotjé says.

Abel adds: “The legacy goes both ways I think. It both taps into tradition, an incredibly proud and successful tradition of campaigning in New Zealand to become a nuclear free beacon of hope.

“I think the legacy is one of public participation and caring for our environment, our planet, and really to any degree this boat can assist us in successes for the greater good of the planet and society, then that becomes this boat’s legacy.”

Kendall Hutt is Pacific Media Watch contributing editor of the Pacific Media Centre. She also works for Greenpeace in a part-time capacity.

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SOURCEPacific Media Centre
Kendall Hutt is Pacific Media Watch freedom project contributing editor 2017. A graduate journalist from Auckland University of Technology, she also completed her Honours year in Communication Studies. Kendall was on the Pacific Media Centre's 2016 Asia-Pacific Journalism Studies course. Kendall is interested in political and climate change journalism, and runs her own television and film review blog. In December 2017, Kendall took up a job with the North Shore Times.


  1. So what are they using for FUEL for their new “schooner”…Pixey Dust? Bet they can’t find enough vegetable oil diesel down under. Always EASY to vilify but when Greenpeace can come up with a viable, scalable energy alternative to replace fossil fuels, then they can JOIN the actual (adult) discussion on how we transition the world’s energy system over the decades to come…

  2. Lo siento pero no estoy de acuerdo con esas medidas contra un programa de levantamiento de informacion geofisica que puede traer muchos beneficios a la humanidad como muchas veces se los han hecho saber a los ambientalistas. Todas las herramientas con las que trabajan los detractores son producidas por, precisamente, por deribados del petroleo que denostan. Si quieren defender a los delfines y las ballenas vaya a ver a los pescadores que las matan para que los multimillonarios que compran las aletas y el buchami les permita tener una ereccion con motivos sexuales. Yo conozco almacenes en que estan a la espera de ser exportados miles de delfines muertos para este proposito.

    Google traduccion.

    I am sorry but I do not agree with these measures, against a geophysical information survey program, which can bring many benefits to mankind; As environmentalists have often been told. All the tools that detractors work with are produced precisely by oil derivatives that they denature. If they want to defend the dolphins and the whales go to see the fishermen who kill them for purposes not so holy, so that the billionaires who buy the fins and the buchami allow them to have an erection with sexual motives. I know stores that are waiting to be exported thousands of dead dolphins for this purpose.

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