Home | Browse Topics | Government & legal system | Activism | Protests at sea

Government & legal system

Different types of protests

Protests at sea

Protesting at sea against mining and drilling

Crown Minerals Act 1991, s 101B

There are special laws around protesting mining or drilling operations in offshore areas.

It’s a criminal offence if you intentionally do things that result in damage to or interference with any ship or structure (an oil rig for example) that’s offshore and that’s involved in mining or drilling operations. For this you can be jailed for up to 12 months, or fined up to $50,000.

The government can also put “non-interference zones” around mining and drilling activities at sea (including prospecting and exploring) that they’ve given permission for. If you’re in charge of a ship and it goes into that non-interference zone without a reasonable excuse, that’s a criminal offence. It’s also a criminal offence if if you leave a ship outside the zone and then swim or otherwise go into it without a reasonable excuse. For those offences, you can be fined up to $10,000.

If there’s a non-interference zone in force, it will be announced in an official “Notice to Mariners” – you can download the current notices in a single file from www.linz.govt.nz/sea/maritime-safety/notices-mariners  and search the file for “Crown Minerals Act” to find any relevant notices.

Crimes Act 1961, ss 92, 93

There’s also the crime of “piracy” if you board a New Zealand ship and then do one of several things, including throwing goods overboard, destroying goods, or assaulting the ship’s com­mander. However, being charged with a piracy offence is very rare.

Example: Discharge without conviction for interfering
with a survey ship

[2018] NZDC 19100

On 10 April 2017, to protest the activities of the Amazon Warrier seismic survey ship, Russell Norman and Sarah Howell, two Greenpeace activists, swam into the ship’s path. The ship turned to avoid them, but Norman and Howell got into the ship’s path again. “Eventually, albeit after some hours”, says the court judgement, “the Amazon Warrior completed a full 360 degree turn, and returned to its original survey course.”

When Norman and Howell got back to Napier, the police arrested them. They were charged under the Crown Minerals Act, section 101B(1)(c), with “intentionally engag[ing] in conduct resulting in the interference with operations or activities being carried out by a ship in an offshore area”.

The two activists pleaded guilty to the charge, but argued for a discharge without conviction – this is where the judge releases you and you don’t get a criminal record. To get this outcome, “the direct and indirect consequences of a conviction would [have to] be out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence.”

The judge granted them the discharge without conviction, on the basis of these factors:

  • The seriousness of the offence was low, as they hadn’t used any violence or force, hadn’t interfered with any physical property, had used appropriate safety procedures and equipment, and hadn’t physically touched the survey ship. Also they had been offered diversion by the prosecution (but turned it down), which indicated that the prosecution thought it was only a low-level offence.
  • Neither of the two activists had a criminal record and were of “previous good character”.
  • The two activists had also pleaded guilty, so as not to unnecessarily use up court resources in holding a trial.
Next Section | Counter-protests

Did this answer your question?

Activism

Where to go for more support

Community Law

www.communitylaw.org.nz

Your local Community Law Centre can provide free initial legal advice and information.

Treaty of Waitangi

www.nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/treaty-of-waitangi

This NZ History webpage has information about the Treaty of Waitangi and events and issues surrounding it. The website is run by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

Waitangi Tribunal

www.waitangitribunal.govt.nz

This website has information about the Waitangi Tribunal.

To start the Tribunal process of submitting a claim, you can either: call the Tribunal office for queries on (04) 914 3000, or email them at WT.Registrar@justice.govt.nz

Matike Mai Report

www.nwo.org.nz/resources/report-of-matike-mai-aotearoa-the-independent-working-group-on-constitutional-transformation/

Matike Mai Aotearoa is an Independent Working Group dedicated to Constitutional Transformation based on tikanga and kawa in Aotearoa/New Zealand. This report outlines their vision, research and findings.

Human Rights Commission

www.hrc.co.nz

The Human Rights Commission was set up in 1977 and works under the Human Rights Act 1993. Their purpose is to promote and protect the human rights of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand.

UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

www.hrc.co.nz/our-work/indigenous-rights/our-work/undrip-and-treaty/

The UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was set up in 2010 for the purpose of increasing the UN’s commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples worldwide.

Privacy Commissioner

www.privacy.org.nz

The Privacy Commissioner has a wide range of functions, including investigating complaints about breaches of privacy, running education programmes, and examining proposed legislation and how it may affect individual privacy.

Advocacy organisations and support services

Rainbow Youth

www.ry.org.nz

RainbowYOUTH provide a number of services, including advocacy for queer, gender diverse, takatāpui & intersex youth, their friends, whānau and wider communities.

Disabled Persons Assembly NZ

www.dpa.org.nz

Disabled Persons Assembly NZ provides direct support and advocacy, and work in collaboration with others to achieve inclusion for all New Zealanders.

Mental Health Foundation

www.mentalhealth.org.nz

The Mental Health Foundation has useful links and resources for people dealing with mental health issues.

Helplines

www.health.govt.nz/your-health/services-and-support/health-care-services/mental-health-services

Police Brutality & Activist Trauma Support and Recovery

medium.com/@jessieden/a-resource-for-activists-working-through-trauma-82a9807712be

The Police Brutality & Activist Trauma Support and Recovery resource is a booklet made by activists for activists, with accessible information on what trauma is, how it affects people, and ideas for supporting yourself and others through it.

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life. It’s for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand (and their advocates) to help themselves.

Buy The Community Law Manual

Help the manual

We’re a small team that relies on the generosity of all our supporters. You can make a one-off donation or become a supporter by sponsoring the Manual for a community organisation near you. Every contribution helps us to continue updating and improving our legal information, year after year.

Donate Become a Supporter

Find the Answer to your Legal Question

back to top