A big rally to “stand up for the ocean” is planned at Manu Bay reserve this Saturday as the Raglan community continues to mobilise in its fight against the dual threats of deep-sea oil exploration and seabed mining.

The 11am to 1pm rally – organised by Kiwis Against Seabed Mining and other local environmentalists – comes as a protest flotilla of seven boats assembles 110 nautical miles directly west of Mount Karioi to confront an Anadarko ship setting up to drill an exploratory well there.

Saturday’s protest, for which some of the organisers hope to engineer wide media attention, follows a busy time for concerned residents last weekend as they mounted a “spontaneous” protest at a busy Raglan entry point – the Bankart/Bow Streets roundabout – as well as setting up placards and a couch outside the Old School to catch Sunday’s Creative Market crowds.

Others meanwhile delivered to letterboxes about town and stuck on windscreens a stark warning, in a KASM pamphlet, that “now’s the time to engage” if Trans Tasman Resources (TTR) is to be denied a licence to mine an area of South Taranaki seabed, and it and other companies stymied in their plans to subsequently mine up and down the west coast on behalf of the global steel industry.

Last weekend’s actions follow a Labour Day protest march up and down Bow Street, and what KASM president Phil McCabe describes as a “profound” public meeting on Tuesday of last week. He says he’s never seen a meeting like it in Raglan as about 200 mostly locals crammed into the town hall and gave very clear “Nos” to deep-sea oil and seabed mining on the west coast.

“If people want to do something [practical] they should put their passion and love [for Raglan] into a TTR submission, and of course come to Saturday’s rally,” he says. The submission period is expected to run for four weeks from next Thursday, November 21.

While Phil was one of two Raglan surfers in the thick of things when a flotilla protested Petrobas seismic testing for oil off East Cape in 2011, it was unclear early this week whether there would be any Raglan representation aboard any of the seven boats now headed for our waters to confront Anadarko’s drill ship, the Nobel Bob Douglas.

The first of the “Oil Free Seas” flotilla left Bluff last Friday, and others from Auckland on Monday and the Bay of Islands on Tuesday. Another was to set sail from Wellington today.

One of the boats taking part, the Vega, also protested against nuclear French testing in the Pacific back in the 1960s.

The big question is whether the flotilla will defy the 500 metre exclusion zone around drilling ships imposed by the Government early this year, as flotilla organiser Anna Horne insists “we will not be bullied into submission by big oil or dubious laws” and Phil talks of the flotilla going “to engage” as well as “to bear witness”.

Last week’s town hall public meeting, called by Tainui hapu environmental spokeswoman Angeline Greensill, may have helped galvanise more Raglan residents into action – particularly after warnings like that from Greenpeace’s Steve Abel, who said modelling showed the beaches from Raglan to Piha would be worst affected by any oil spill – but organisers were disappointed no-one from the likes of Anadarko, TTR or the Government turned up.

Local MP Shane Ardern insists he was needed at Parliament that evening, and others said the notice was too short. However Angeline has been scathing of Anadarko’s no-show, saying: “If something happens at sea, you have not got the luxury of time. If you can’t front up to a meeting, how are you going to front up to a disaster?”

Edith Symes