Wellington - Police on Monday arrested actress Lucy Lawless and five Greenpeace environmental activists after the group spent four days protesting aboard an oil-drilling ship docked in New Zealand.
Police removed the group from their perch 53m drilling tower on the Noble Discoverer in Port Taranaki. Lawless and six activists climbed the tower early on Friday in an attempt to raise awareness about oil drilling in the Arctic and prevent the ship from leaving.
One of the activists left the tower on Saturday and was initially charged with unlawfully boarding a ship. All seven activists, including Lawless, have now been charged with burglary, a more serious charge. All have been released and are due to appear in a New Zealand court on Thursday.
Chartered by oil company Shell, the ship had been due to leave over the weekend for the Arctic to drill five exploratory wells.
'Not for sissies'
Lawless, 43, a native New Zealander, is best known for her title role in the TV series Xena: Warrior Princess, and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series Spartacus.
Lawless spoke to The Associated Press from atop the tower on Friday, where she said wind gusts were making it difficult for the group to stay put. She said she felt compelled to take a stand against oil-drilling in the Arctic and against global warming.
"I've got three kids. My sole biological reason for being on this planet is to ensure that they can flourish, and they can't do that in a filthy, degraded environment," she said. "We need to stand up while we still can."
In a series of tweets over the weekend, Lawless described some of the challenges of staying on the tower.
"I found last night pretty darn scary," she wrote. "Not for sissies."
Protest had gone 'brilliantly'
In a release, Rob Jager, Chairman of Shell New Zealand, said the protest had put people in danger and he was pleased it was over. He said he remained disappointed that Greenpeace hadn't taken up the company's offer to engage in a "productive conversation".
Shell spokesperson Shona Geary said she thought the ship would leave port within the next few days.
Bunny McDiarmid, the chief executive of Greenpeace New Zealand, said she thought the protest had gone "brilliantly" and that more than 100 000 people had sent messages to Shell to oppose the company's Arctic plans.
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