Climate Justice

People power will be crucial to finding solutions

The impacts of climate change continued to deepen in Aotearoa in 2022. We saw destructive floods in Nelson and recorded the hottest year ever in these islands. These impacts are still weighing on our regions as we reflect and look forward.

The New Zealand Government’s cogs are slowly turning towards climate solutions across a large range of ministries after decades of hard work by our communities. The Resource Management Act reforms and the first-ever Emissions Reduction plan both remind us that people-power will be pivotal in making sure the solutions are tika and uphold the mana of our taiao. There is much work to do to hold corporations to account for climate pollution, and make sure local communities are resourced to take the lead.

A group of young people are standing on a  sidewalk in front of some greenery. They are holding a banner saying "climate justice" and a placard which reads "political inaction, more school strikes".

The increasing appetite for climate solutions continues to buoy our climate justice team. We need solutions that also tackle the many crises our beloved communities are experiencing, such as an expansion of welfare support, so that workers can transition to climate-friendly jobs without experiencing financial stress, and free public transport for everyone.

2022 was a year for communities, advocates, organisations and families to gather and connect. We built our muscles of whanaungatanga in preparation for the mahi that needs doing. For example, rewriting laws, growing our emergency response capacity, or growing ancestral kai.

These are the seeds to take forward into 2023. Remember, for this brewing election year that will take place amidst escalating climate change:

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi

With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive


A group of people of different ages, wearing orange high visibility vests, are grouped around a monument that marks the entry to the Porirua basin wastewater treatment plant.

Our climate justice campaigner Pania Rei (Ngāti Toa Rangatira) started off her first year with us with an intensive 3-month training period. She took a deep-dive into all the ins and outs of campaigning and the climate justice movement.

Next came the campaign research phase. We looked at where the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Porirua come from. We developed a strategy that aligns with mana whenua values and ambitions for their rohe. This was followed by community hui with rangatahi, kaumātua and pakeke to make sure the change being pushed for aligns with these aspirations. This allowed us to understand where unjust decisions have been made, and the harm that has been caused to iwi and taiao.

We came away with a deeper understanding of the great love Ngāti Toa have for the Porirua harbour, and how important it is for that love to be expressed in restoring the harbour. Reducing emissions will in turn grow the wellbeing of the communities of Porirua. This made the final decision to run our campaign around alternative wastewater management an easy one to arrive at.

Currently, the wastewater management system in Porirua deposits treated and untreated sewage into the harbour and surrounding waterways. Old leaky pipes and overflows at the plant cause major harm to the ecology of the harbour. Water-based recreational and cultural activities, including gathering kai, have become unsafe.

If you want to read more about the issues around the waste treatment plant and what the solutions are, read Pania’s op-ed here: We need wastewater systems that don't harm people and the planet.

Our first step in enacting the strategy was to build community appetite for alternative waste treatment. We needed to make sure the local government elections resulted in good local and regional councils who will ultimately decide the course of wastewater infrastructure in Porirua. First, Pania ran a bus tour around the Wastewater Treatment Plant catchment and a tour of the plant itself. Local community members attended, with an emphasis on those with connection to Ngāti Toa Rangatira. Next was a Speak Out session, where community members had the opportunity to share stories of the harbour and how the pollution has affected them and their whānau.

This was also a big year for Pania to grow her public speaking skills for the kaupapa. She was a panellist on Te Papa’s “He Huringa Āhuarangi: A Changing Climate” panel series and encouraged attendees to vote at a get-out-the-vote concert run by Generation Zero Wellington.

Throughout the year, Pania also focussed on one of the most important aspects of campaigning and change-making: whakawhanaungatanga. This gave Pania the opportunity to work very closely with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Toa and grow conversations with Porirua and Wellington City councils.

This has set the groundwork for the mahi ahead in 2023, in our journey toward a more just and healthy world for all of us.

A meme which reads "Zero emissions 2025 - minimise the disasters of climate change", Below the text, there are five round shapes showing photographs of some of the consequences of climate change: forest fires, two people trying to rescue a car from a flooded road, cracked dry earth with dried up crops, the effect of high winds, and two hands holding an emptuy food bowl


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