"Xena: Warrior Princess" actress Lucy Lawless pleaded guilty in a
New Zealand court Thursday to unlawfully boarding a ship in
protest at plans to search for oil off Alaska.
The actress said she had no regrets about joining a group of
Greenpeace activists who occupied the oil-drilling ship Noble
Discoverer for three days in February in a bid to prevent it
sailing from New Zealand to the Arctic and searching for oil.
The protest at the North Island port of Taranaki ended peacefully
when police arrested the demonstrators after scaling a 53-metre
(174-foot) drilling derrick on the ship, which is contracted to
Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell.
Eight activists, including Lawless, were initially charged with
burglary but pleaded guilty in Auckland District Court Thursday
after the charges were downgraded to unlawfully boarding a ship.
Lawless, who appeared in court under her married name Lucy
Tapert, said the protest had successfully drawn attention to the
issue and prompted 470,000 people to sign an online campaign
opposing deep sea drilling.
"Certainly I stand by what we did and our need to do it," she
told reporters outside the court, adding "I had to do what I had
"Peaceful action is the only way forward, a clean green Earth is
what we need."
She said while the possibility of a conviction may be damaging
for her career "it's not as risky as doing nothing".
Lawless, who starred as the title character in the fantasy
television series "Xena: Warrior Princess" from 1995-2001, is a
long-time environmental activist who was named a Greenpeace
ambassador in 2009.
She and the other activists will be sentenced on September 14,
when they will apply for the matter to be discharged without
The Noble Discoverer has since set sail for the Arctic.
The US Interior Department granted Shell conditional provisional
approval to begin drilling exploration wells in the Arctic Ocean
last August, in a move slammed by conservationists.
US officials had pledged to closely monitor Shell's plans for
four shallow water exploration wells in Alaska's Beaufort Sea to
ensure operations are conducted in a "safe and environmentally
But green groups say it puts wildlife and native communities in
the remote region at risk, citing the vastly complicated task of
drilling in the harsh Arctic environment and effectively cleaning
up any spills in such conditions.
They also point to the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of
Mexico in 2010 after Shell's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded as an
example of the risks inherent in drilling for oil.