'Keep your carbon in the soil': Students strike again against climate change
Climate Change Minister James Shaw is encouraging students at Fridays School Strike 4 Climate rally at Parliament to continue fighting for the cause. Thousands of students around New Zealand called on politicians to do more to combat climate change in the first of several demonstrations taking place across the country. Wellington students braved cold and drizzly weather to rally at Parliaments forecourt. Students carried placards with messages including no more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil and there is no planet b. The largest banner read: Trains not planes. Get serious about the climate crisis. READ MORE: * Friday's climate strike will be the biggest yet, organisers say * Nelson students demand climate action in second strike * Students, supporters converge on central Hamilton calling for action on climate change Elisabeth Matsis, 16, of Wellingtons Queen Margaret College said students were concerned and scared about the impacts of climate change. We, as young people, are going to be the ones who are affected by climate change, and so its important that were the ones who are speaking out and making sure that people know that this is an issue that needs to be solved, Matsis said. Sixteen-year-old Noah Te Ahuru travelled to the Parliamentary rally with about 10 others from Kapiti College. He said it was important the worsening impact of climate change remained at the forefront of peoples minds. Its just good to support the movement, the more people, the better. Theres more chance of change ... I feel like its something that should be taken seriously, Te Ahuru said. Shaw was joined by fellow Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter in addressing protesters. If anybody tells you you are too young to make a difference, that your voice doesnt count, do not believe them. It is because of young people that we even have the Zero Carbon Act in this country. Thats because of you and people like you all around the country. Please keep it up, Shaw said. In Christchurch, more than 1200 strikers gathered at Cathedral Square then marched to Christchurch City Council, in Hereford St, where they were met by nine candidates for the local elections. Although the numbers were less than previous School Strike 4 Climate demonstrations protesters made lots of noise with chants of no more coal, no more oil, leave our fossil in the soil. Addressing the crowd, co-organiser Aurora Garner-Randolph said national and local governments needed to invest in green infrastructure. We need to act radically and we need to act now. We demand actions not words. Musician and activist Lucy Gray took to the stage with her acoustic guitar to sing a protest song. Despite being only 15, Gray is a long-term environmental activist and has appeared at many of the school climate strikes. Also in attendance was Green MP Eugenie Sage who said action on climate change is going too slowly. Lan Pham, who served as an Environment Canterbury councillor for six years, said it was heartening to see so many young people taking up such an important cause. About 200 people gathered in Aucklands Aotea Square. Unlike previous protests, there were no police road blocks, so protesters were mixed in with traffic. Activist Sophie Todd said climate justice meant focusing on those being impacted by climate change, rather than on incentivising corporates. Ive been raised on the news that Im going to die by the age of 50, because of the decisions that have been made in the past. Im just naturally defending my survival here on earth. Juressa Lee said the Government was not doing enough. The whenua that I whakapapa to is frontline to the climate crisis. One day I will be a tupuna, so its important to me that I honour the way that my tupuna lived - they were kaitiaki of this land. Zane Wedding said the climate justice movement worked best when all groups in the space worked together. Its about getting out a clear message - be here, be heard. Amberleigh James said missing a day of school was worth it if the message got across. What could be more important? The demonstrations have been planned to coincide with the local government elections, with campaigners calling for more investment in public transport, cycleways and more liveable cities. Principals have taken a supportive stance ahead of the latest School Strike 4 Climate protests, with one school moving an exam so students can attend their local rally. The New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa, the largest education trade union in New Zealand, is also backing the movement. We support the School Strike 4 Climate demands and we stand in solidarity with the students to demand the government take bolder action on climate change, says NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford. The Government is making good progress on climate policy, but the seriousness of the climate crisis requires that we step up the level of urgency. Aurora Garner-Randolph, a year 12 student at Avonside Girls' High School in Christchurch and one of the SS4C Otautahi organisers, said it remains important for young people to have their voices heard on climate change. The climate emergency hasn't gone away since the last strike, it has only got worse, she said. We are calling on our elected representatives to make bold climate legislation and future-proof our city. The 16-year-old said the reaction from schools had been very mixed. In previous years we have had schools issuing detentions, which we think is absolutely terrible. Going to a protest like this is one of the best ways they can encourage students to participate in democracy. Previous strikes across the country have mobilised over 38,000 people between them. The last school climate demonstration was in March 2021 and Carter Andrew, one of the organisers at SS4C Otautahi, said the 18-month gap was due to Covid-19 restrictions on mass gatherings and also allegations of organisational racism by some former members .