Two Greenpeace activists, Abigail Smith and Nick Hanafin, climbed the building in protest of oil giant OMV, located on the 20th floor of the building.
They were taken away in a single police car that emerged from the centre’s underground carpark just before 9.20pm to cheers from a small band of five campaigners.
One of those campaigners, Amanda Larsen, said the pair were met by police at the top after reaching a ledge above the 20th floor and climbing onto the top of the building.
The pair spent 14 hours scaling the side of the centre, Larsen said.
“I think thousands more New Zealanders will know the name OMV today because of this protest.”
Earlier Smith and Hanafin had unveiled a banner saying “It’s a climate emergency” and “Know your enemy”.
Just before 6pm, the two protesters were wearing head lamps and writing messages on the windows of the 20th floor. The blinds inside the offices had been pulled down.
We areh 18 stories up, that’s 2 away from OMV’s office where we want to deliver the message that it is time for an end to big oil. They have plans to drill 22 wells in NZ, making them our biggest, and last, international oil villain. #EvictOMV #ClimateEmergency @GreenpeaceNZ pic.twitter.com/pTFbZ0hTUa
— Abigail Smith (@divinefire79) July 23, 2019
They planned to deliver an unspecified message to OMV when they reached the 20th floor.
Speaking during the climb, Smith said the pair were using “absolutely every safety precaution” as they made their way up the tower with police watching on from below. They were using a mixture of traditional rock climbing and industrial climbing techniques, she said.
She laughed at the “probably highly likely” prospect that she would be arrested when they came back down. But first they planned to go to the 20th floor than on to the top.
She earlier wrote an opinion piece for Stuff explaining why and how the pair were doing the climb.
“The first person will pull up the wall metre by metre using crack climbing equipment, and then the second person will climb up double ropes to reach them.
“It isn’t exactly a position I ever imagined I’d find myself in, but a few weeks ago I watched as a monstrous self-propelled oil rig commissioned by OMV came over our horizon and the fire in my gut that compels me to take action all of a sudden burned with a new ferocity.”
But Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand chief executive Cameron Madgwick slammed the climb as ignorant grandstanding.
“If Greenpeace bothered to read the Interim Climate Change Committee’s report last week, they would know how important natural gas is for supporting renewable electricity, and in doing so encouraging sectors like transport to lower emissions by switching to electricity,” he said.
“Greenpeace should be supporting exploration for natural gas given how it is helping replace coal and lower emissions all around the world.
“New Zealand could play a part in these global efforts by producing lower-emitting natural gas.
“It’s especially important given New Zealand has just 11 years of reserves left. We need natural gas to cook our food, heat our homes and power the businesses that employ so many people.”
In a statement, OMV said the company respected the climbers’ “democratic right to express their point of view”.
“We only ask that they do so lawfully and with their own and the safety of others in mind.”
Tackling climate change required solutions, and using natural gas was “part of the solution for decades to come”, the statement said.
“We intend to honour our permit commitments to continue to supply the energy the country needs.
“Over the coming summer OMV plans to drill exploration wells in Taranaki and Great South Basin in permits it has held for a number of years.”
Greenpeace climate campaigner Amanda Larsson said the protest was in response to the arrival in New Zealand of a self-propelled oil rig, which OMV would use to drill exploratory wells off the Taranaki Coast and in the Great South Basin.
“We’ve seen governments including those of the UK, Wales and Scotland declare national climate emergencies, and councils all over New Zealand including Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch, and Dunedin doing the same,” Larsson said.
“We’re living through a climate emergency. If we don’t halve global carbon emissions in just a decade, we’ll be locked into extreme weather and heating that will threaten all life on Earth, including our own.”
It follows a protest outside the Willis St building against OMV by Oil Free Wellington.
“People might think that oil drilling came to an end in New Zealand when the government ‘banned’ it last year,” spokesman James Barber said.
“Unfortunately for the climate, it’s actually business as usual for oil companies who want to drill here. Existing drilling permits have not been cancelled – and oil drilling could even be continuing after 2050.
“Climate change is already affecting our planet and its people. The Government talks tough on tackling climate change – but they’re still allowing companies to drill for polluting fossil fuels.”