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Fonterra ‘tasting’ serves a side of coal to passers-by

5 Mar

“Would you like to taste some of Fonterra’s fine products? Here you are – it comes with coal!”

Orientation Week seemed a good time to stage a bit of street theatre outside Fonterra’s HQ just down hill from Auckland University. Four waitresses in frilly white aprons and caps offered passers-by (mainly students) samples of Fonterra milk and cheese – then popped a piece of coal on top.


Do you realise your cheese comes with coal?

It was a great conversation starter about the proposed new coal mine at Mangatawhiri and how Fonterra could use wood chip in its dairy factories instead of coal. Most people agreed, and most were horrified, having no idea that Fonterra was such a major coal burner.

Police and media presence

Police were out in force, obviously called by Fonterra who found a few milkmaids really scary. The cops looked a bit embarrassed about being there at all.2013-03-05 16.10.33

Also, interested in the action were a number of media outlets. Waikato Times did a preview, Radio BFM did an interview, a rural TV programme turned up and the NZ Herald’s Elements environmental supplement ran a piece too.

Why target Fonterra now?

Glencoal, wholly owned by Fonterra, has applied for consents for an open cast mine on farmland at Mangatawhiri on SH2. It’s not an easy place for them as it would be highly visible to anyone driving from Auckland to Tauranga or the Coromandel. Planned to produce 120,000 tonnes a year, it would take over from the Kopako 3 mine which currently supplies the dairy factories at Waitoa, Hautapu and Te Awamutu. With the Kopako coal running out in 2014, it’s a good time to start the phase out of coal in favour of waste wood which is locally available.

Local opinion

Local farmers and residents are not overly happy about living next to an open cast mine and a public meeting has been organised jointly by local people and Auckland Coal Action for 7 March. Locals will hear Jim Salinger speak on the expected impacts of climate change on farming in that area, as well as speakers on the health effects of coal mining and how to make a submission under the RMA on the consent hearing.

Watch this space for more.

Three generations represented at Solid Energy protest

17 Nov

Three generations of Auckland Coal Action members protested outside the Auckland Town Hall tonight. We were there once again, alerting orchestra patrons to the NZSO’s connection with climate criminal, Solid Energy.

We don’t see why coal sponsorship is still allowed, when it is far more dangerous than tobacco: dangerous to our health and that of the climate we depend on for our survival.

See press release and media coverage of this event.

Forbidden Love and a forbidden elephant

19 Oct

The Climate Elephant is barred from the room.

A dozen members of Auckland Coal Action were at the Town Hall again this evening to protest Solid Energy’s sponsorship of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Forbidden Love. Just like all those dirty tobacco companies, coal company Solid Energy is promoting itself as one of the ‘good guys’ through association with our national orchestra.

We were there to let orchestra patrons know what kind of company was sponsoring the event, giving them copies of our open letter to the NZSO in which we urged the orchestra to ditch Solid Energy.

If we can ban sponsorship by tobacco companies because of the damage caused by their product, then it is high time we banned sponsorship by coal companies. The threat caused by burning coal to our climate is far more serious than tobacco.

Climate change is the elephant in the room when we talk about coal mining, but this evening our very own Climate Elephant was barred from entering the room by security guards.

The elephant, and the urgent problem he represents, are too big to ignore and won’t be going away any time soon.

Coal sponsorship, worse than tobacco

29 Sep

Auckland Coal Action ‘attended’ the final show in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s Solid Energy Tour. We held banners at the doors and handed out leaflets to concert-goers with the message that we should no longer accept coal sponsorship.

We support the orchestra, but not its sponsor – so this protest was a friendly one. We’ve outlined our position in an open letter to the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Coal, worse than tobacco
We no longer accept tobacco sponsorship of cultural and sporting events, so why should we accept sponsorship from coal companies such as Solid Energy?

Action on climate change is more urgent than ever. There are huge quantities of coal left – enough to raise the temperature of the earth by 15 degrees. To save the planet from runaway climate change, leading scientists advise that we must phase out coal to zero by 2030.

Instead, Solid Energy has plans to massively increase its coal extraction. So it is fair to say that coal is today’s tobacco industry, the evidence of its harm is simply too great to ignore.

Solid Energy – dirty energy, dirty employer
Solid Energy uses sponsorship to try and create a good public image despite the fact that its business is based on extracting coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels, and the biggest contributor to climate change.

The company’s recent actions in slashing its workforce show they have as little regard for their workers as they do for the climate. Kristin Gillies makes this point well in his recent Opinion Editorial in the Greymouth Star and Southland Times.

Isn’t any funding of the arts a good thing?
Not when the harm caused by the sponsor to the climate, local environment and its own workers outweighs any benefits by such a large margin.

When sponsorship from tobacco companies was banned, people were concerned that funding for community organizations would dry up. But it didn’t happen – others filled the gap. We call on the government to fully fund the NZSO and are prepared to pay the taxes to support this.

Add your voice to ours!
We invite you to join us in alerting the government to our dissatisfaction that such an important institution has been reduced to accepting sponsorship from a coal mining company by a lack of state support.

If you agree, please email or phone our Minister for Culture and Heritage, and let him know how you feel.
Hon Christopher Finlayson
(04) 817 6808

To contact the NZSO, email: