Protestors from the environmental group ‘Extinction Rebellion’ caused a stir in Richmond this week, chaining themselves to the gates of Ravensdown on Lower Queen Street at dawn on Monday to halt the production of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser.
Extinction Rebellion is a global environmental movement with the aim of using non-violent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system.
Protesters aimed to halt the distribution of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser, which they say causes the pollution of rivers and lakes. Employees and trucks were unable to access the depot as protestors chained themselves to the gates.
Extinction Rebellion Whakatū campaigner Te Wehi Ratana says that the government needs to phase out synthetic fertiliser and limit the pollution resulting from industrial agriculture.
“We’re making a stand against the synthetic fertiliser that’s degrading our water and driving the climate crisis,” Ratana says.
Dr Aaron Stallard, who is the Green Party Candidate for Nelson, says that the protest is about standing up for rivers and lakes.
“This is about our government not doing enough to protect our rivers and our lakes, so we are making a stand,” he says.
“Ravensdown supplies most of the agricultural market in New Zealand with synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and blood phosphates,” he says.
Aaron says that nitrogen fertiliser contributes to the poor health of New Zealand waterways.
“For all the problems that we have with rivers that aren’t swimmable, the two biggest factors are livestock effluents and fertiliser, so that system needs to change, that’s why we blocked the gates,” he says.
“We don’t want to burden our children with a worsening climate crisis. The answer is fewer cows and the end of synthetic fertiliser,” Ratana says.
A police spokesperson said that police officers were at the event, and arrived at 7:15am.
“The priority for police is to ensure safety and uphold the law, while recognising the lawful right to protest,” a spokesperson said.
Protester Tamzyn Davey says that protestors are willing to be arrested for what they believe in.
“I’ve been involved in protests in Australia, mostly against the coal mining industry, and I’ve been arrested,” she says.
“It’s for people to see that normal folks are upset enough about this that they are willing to get arrested, it’s making a point to our leaders,” she says.