Extinction Rebellion Te Whanganui-a-Tara Kick-Off Event “A Gathering of Rebels” International Week of Action against climate change and the 6th mass extinction (April 15 - 20, 2019)
On Monday, April 15th 2019, Extinction Rebellion’s (XR) international week of action kicked off in Aotearoa. XR Wellington invited speakers from some of our country’s major environmental groups and organisations to “a Gathering of Rebels (for life)” at Rutherford House on the Pipitea Victoria University Campus.
Around 80 people attended – despite the fact that #winterhascome.
The evening began with an acknowledgement of the shocking events in Christchurch of exactly a month ago, and a minute of silence out of respect for the victims and their families. We were also reminded that these events are linked in numerous ways to the climate and ecological disasters we face.
Speakers from 350, Greenpeace, School Strikes 4 Climate, the Cycling Action Network, Coal Action Network Aotearoa, and Forest & Bird presented the why (motivations), how (process) and what (impact) of their respective organisations. Our most outstanding climate change scientist and communicator, Professor James Renwick, also shared reflections of his work and experiences.
Extinction Rebellion Wellington’s spokesperson, Dr Sea Rotmann, says that, “Ultimately, we wanted to bring our allies in this fight for life together, and to acknowledge the mahi and mana of their work which has been going on so much longer than Extinction Rebellion’s. We also were hoping to tease out how and where XRNZ can add value, and remove or overcome any obstacles to our supporting each other in this most urgent of fights.”
All the groups shared a vision of a just transition to a fossil-fuel free world which worked in harmony with nature, and a deep concern about the urgency of our climate and ecological crises. Individual speakers had followed different paths to their current work, but all were impassioned about the need for radical, rapid change. As Prof Renwick so poignantly commented “If we would have taken action in the 80s, when we knew how big this problem was becoming, we wouldn’t have had to meet here tonight.”
The speakers shared stories of success, recent and not so recent - from Forest & Bird supporting the “Save Manapouri” campaign to the Schools Strike4Climate which saw 20,000 school children and their whanau march a month ago, from CANA campaigning to keep the lignite coal in the ground in Southland to Greenpeace promoting the ban on new fossil fuel exploration. And we shared our stories of failure too, like that OMV is now coming to NZ to continue oil exploration and production, and Fonterra’s continuing use of coal for milk powder production.
Each group had significant current campaigns. Greenpeace will be trying to stop the resumption of oil drilling off the South Island, Schools Strike for Climate will set up recurring strikes and extend their actions, 350 is working on New Zealand banks to divest from fossil
fuels and Forest and Bird continues to work on a range of fronts to halt the largest extinction event currently happening in the world, right here in Aotearoa.
We were reminded of the exhilaration felt by many during the Schools Strike4Climate, and that we needed to find the joy in climate action and in working together.
Dr Rotmann says: “We found that we shared such a strong vision of our necessary future, but also a deep concern that we might not achieve it, as climate change and ecological degradation accelerate to the point of no return. We all agreed that we needed to continue to talk, share, and support each other in our ongoing work and campaigns”.
“This week, Extinction Rebellion Wellington is supporting a group of Waiheke cyclists presenting a climate declaration at Parliament, today. We also will be undertaking a series of actions, such as a public talk by Dr Mike Joy and protest against intensive agriculture and our severe freshwater degradation, on Wednesday at 3pm at Parliament. The week of action will culminate in a human wave visualising the rising tides along the CBD waterfront on Saturday afternoon. And this is only just the beginning for our movement”.
“Politicians, corporations, and individuals all need to step up, face, and act on this crisis that no one is immune from.”
Extinction Rebellion Te Whanganui-a-Tara demands that our Government:
1. Tells the truth about the climate and ecological
2. Takes the necessary steps (declaring a state of emergency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025) to address it, and
3. Creates Participatory Democracy to oversee the process.