Yeeesh. So many thoughts in my head. How can I get them all down? Should I get them down? I’m appearing in court on two charges tomorrow, will they say “we saw on your “blog” that you made a gag about prison food so for that you can go down for LIFE”
A huge part of me is even reluctant to write about it. When my cousin saw someone had tagged me on Facebook saying “Lucy’s been arrested!!!” she typed something like “Can’t wait to hear about it on the blog!” and I recoiled a bit inside. Honestly, I would rather just be all noble and cool about it, not even really mention it, y’know, like man I’m always getting popped by the fuzz.
But, it’s not about me, is it? It’s about a mountain. And a morally bankrupt government. And a mining company that can’t see that exploitative industries belong to the past. And it’s about a beautiful, strong group of people who believe in a future where humankind and the earth live in harmony.
Two weeks ago our friends spotted a drilling rig up on the beautiful Mount Karangahake, a place so precious it has been given special protection by the government. We live right at the foot of this mountain- a mountain that made some people alot of money from the gold in its guts a long, long time ago. So the gold mining companies are always sniffing around. (I give a lot of context, and show off my little cross stich protest here in this post.) We made some calls, took a hike and confirmed that yes, it was a drilling rig, it was Newcrest Mining Ltd, prospecting for gold 100 metres away from conservation land.
We organised a bunch of trips up there. It is powerful, walking 2.5 hours through the forest to a protest at a drilling rig. You get the space to consider, how much does this rig matter? How far am I willing to go?
How much does it matter?
The rig is on a narrow bit of land that makes up a really important ecological corridor, connected Mount Karangahake to the rest of the Kamai Ranges. This drilling rig, although on private property, is more then welcome to dig down, change direction and then go right into the mountain itself.
Ecologically, this rig matters alot.
The big picture too is that our government has actually sold the full mining rights for Mount Karangahake to another gold mining company – and this company is just awaiting official approval for their traffic management plan for their drilling this conservation land. Not kidding.
It belays the disturbing tendency of this government to chose business over sustainability. (I’d say “profit” but the fact is that very little comes into NZ by way of these industries- profit is exported and most jobs, apart from the most temporary and low paid, are given to experts from overseas.) It is about this government saying one thing and doing another. it is about this government acting utterly undemocratically.
So on a political level, this whole drilling around Karangahake matters alot.
Since the drilling began two weeks ago we’ve been hearing it night and day, feeling its vibrations. The day the drilling began all the ruru (little native owls, often called morepork) stopped singing and began to screech. They screeched for a few days, and then they went silent. We used to lie in bed listening to the sound of the ruru calling to each other. We haven’t heard their song since the day the drilling began.
We moved to this place so we would be surrounded by conservation land, so we could be amongst the beautiful native birds and wildlife. And gold mining, despite their talk of rehabilitation, has a devastating impact on the natural environment.
So, you know what? On a personal level, it matters alot.
It matters enough to join with a crowd of bravehearts and sit it out in the wind and the hail and see them all trespassed and moved off the mountain. It matters enough to stay, when the police ask me to come down.
So on Sunday 25 people headed up the mountain together. We took wool and yarnbombed the rig. We sang and huddled against the wind. We took samples of the sludge dripping down the bank so we could test to see if they were leaking toxins into the earth. When the hail began some made their way down the mountain. Others stepped inside the rig and we awaited the police together. The police arrived. The drilling had been stopped for three hours. After being issued trespass notices, and court summons, the group had to leave the mountain.
I was still on top of the rig and felt so strongly that I didn’t want to move. I wanted to stay and bear witness to the hopelessness of destroying something so precious, something given to us to preserve.
The cops told me to come down, I refused and then my phone rang and it was NewstalkZB wanting a live interview for radio, so I tried to make as much sense as I could about the ecological corridor as the police officers climbed up the rig and began to hustle me down. One of them grabbed my phone and said Thank you for your call before he put it in his pocket. Good manners right there.
I was pretty emotional. I wanted to stay. I wanted to stick by the mountain, just for one more minute. They were some of the most intense, vulnerable, determined minutes of my life.
The drill workers were laughing and yelling and taking videos of my undignified descent so I sat down stubbornly in the mud.
Alas, police officers have their way of getting you into their car. (After pulling me off the rig the Police Officers, like so many of that trade, were awesome. They were kind and did their job well, they even seemed, dare I say it, supportive.)
We went to the police station for finger prints and a mugshot. It’s not really a process meant to make you feel human.
Tomorrow I’m in court for wilful trespass and resisting arrest.
I don’t want a clap. (Just chocolate in the post please)
Some of my heros are those who have embraced civil disobedience in the name of environmental and social justice. (I admire lots of non felons too)
Now I wonder if perhaps most people would be willing to risk arrest if they felt two things come together – anger or concern about something and a belief that you could bring change with a certain action.
What a great joy though! You don’t have to get arrested! You can simply head here and check out the Facebook page, share a few links and sign our petition:
So yeah. Arrested, hey? There’s a first time for everything…