Today I went to a beach party. We had a great time, we dressed up, and we danced. Then we left – after five minutes.
Why? Because this party was in a bank. We were protesting ANZ’s massive investments in fossil fuels, and the impact that will have on our future. Our message to ANZ was simple: “We’re facing a climate crisis and you’re planning for a beach party. The party’s over. It’s time to divest from fossil fuels!”
This party officially kicked off the New Zealand Break Free from Fossil Fuels campaign.
How it went down
It all happened very quickly: While a few protesters handed out flyers explaining to the staff why we were there, the rest of us danced our way into the bank in one big jiggling clump, with the Vengaboys’ “Boom Boom Boom Boom” playing on our sound system.
We had volleyball players with a net/banner that read “ANZ the party’s over – Divest now!” People dressed as sea creatures bobbed around the newly risen ocean (after all, in a few years that branch of ANZ will be prime beachfront real estate). The rest of us enjoyed the beach as sunbathers, surfers, and snorkelers. I spent my time “sunbathing” on the floor of the bank, dancing while lying down (it takes practice!)
Once the song was over, we Conga’d our way out of the bank, free to protest another day.
What is Break Free?
This party celebrated the beginning of the New Zealand chapter of the global Break Free campaign. For two weeks from 4-15 May, climate protesters from around the world will be putting a stop to fossil fuel projects – to keep coal, oil, and gas in the ground, and to hasten the global just transition to renewable energy. Here in New Zealand, our focus is banks that invest in fossil fuel projects.
All four Big Australian Banks have investments in fossil fuels: ANZ, ASB, BNZ, and Westpac. However, ANZ is the worst offender by far, with $13.5 billion invested in coal and gas projects since 2008. As the largest bank in the Pacific region, they are responsible for bankrolling the very destructive projects that are causing so much damage to Pacific Island nations.
Break Free protests will be taking place around the country if you want to get involved or follow along with what’s happening. Click on your city to sign up!
Christchurch – Saturday 7 May
Wellington – Wednesday 11 May
Hamilton – Wednesday 11 May
Dunedin – Thursday 12 May
Auckland – Friday 13 May