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Artists And Scientists Unite Behind Reducing Plastic Impact On Our Environment

Collective Submission by Track Zero and 28 prominent Artists and Scientists

On the Government proposal: Reducing the impact of plastic on our environment – moving away from hard-to-recycle and single-use items

Track Zero and a group of 28 prominent, individual artists and scientists have joined forces to support the Government’s proposed ban on a range of single-use and hard-to-recycle plastic products, and are encouraging New Zealanders who care about waste issues and the climate crisis to do the same.

“Plastics cause lasting damage to our natural world and accelerate climate change. By 2050, plastic production from fossil fuels is expected to triple, contributing up to 13% of the global carbon budget adding to global warming” said Sarah Meads, Founder of Track Zero. She added, “The Government’s proposal is really significant because it proposes to ban many plastic items that are difficult to recycle and are commonly found in our environment”.

Efforts to tackle plastic pollution and to curb global warming require a concerted approach of regulatory and technological solutions and a re-imagining of our cultural beliefs and practices such as production, consumption, disposability and convenience.

Tanea Heke, Tumuaki – Te Kura Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School and a signatory to the Collective Submission said, “Arts and sciences can work together to communicate complex concepts, to change hearts and minds, and to allow people to feel they can make a difference”. She added, “A dance, song or painting can connect with people on an emotional level, in ways that scientific statistics and graphs can’t. Both are important ways of communicating – but the visceral response can help to create entry points that make people feel more engaged and inspired to do something”.

There are many examples where arts-science partnerships have been incredibly effective in communicating a concept, or they have resulted in measured behaviour change. For example, the award-winning partnership between Siouxsie Wiles (Microbiologist and Science Communicator) and Toby Morris (Cartoonist and Writer) on COVID-19 and collaborative initiatives such as ‘The Unseen’, an art-science-community project exploring marine ecosystems and climate change by Gabby O’Connor (Artist, Science Communicator, Antarctic researcher and PhD candidate).

Many of Aotearoa’s highly celebrated artists already use their creativity and cultural experience to draw attention to our relationship with oceans, rivers and land and the urgent need to protect our natural world. Artists like Moana Maniapoto, Miria George, Nina Nawalowalo, Carol Brown, George Nuku, Troy Tu’ua, Nigel Brown, Joseph Michael, Gareth Farr, Warren Maxwell and Michel Tuffery and many others continue to inspire diverse audiences in communities across Aotearoa and the world.

Dr Daniel Hikuroa, Earth System’s Scientist who signed himself as ‘Servant to Papatūānuku’ on the Collective Submission said, “The shift in how we think about our connection with our natural world is integral to how effectively we can respond and it affects all of us. He commented, “It’s vital for everyone to feel they can be part of making a difference by drawing on all kinds of skills and knowledge, artistic, scientific, mātauranga Māori and that founded in culture and personal experience to help bring about a better, more sustainable future for papatūānuku and future generations”.

Track Zero’s Collective Submission supports the Joint Submission prepared by organisations across New Zealand’s wider zero waste community who’s collective voice applauds the Government’s proposal and leadership around hard-to-recycle and single-use plastic products, and to suggest changes and additions for the Government to ensure the proposal is inclusive, ambitious and reflective of our current climate crisis.

The Track Zero Collective Submission is signed by 28 individual, prominent Artists and Scientists:

  • Dr Anne-Gaelle Ausseil - Environmental Research Scientist
  • Denise Batchelor - Artist
  • Nigel Brown ONZM - Artist
  • Lynda Chanwai-Earle - Script Writer, Poet, Broadcaster and 2019 IIML Writer in Residence, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Daniel Collins - Freshwater and Climate Change Scientist
  • Dr David Hall - Lecturer in Politics, School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, AUT University
  • Professor Bronwyn Hayward - Professor of Political Science at University of Canterbury
  • Dr Daniel Hikuroa - Servant of Papatūānuku
  • Tanea Heke - Tumuaki – Te Kura Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School
  • Professor Shaun Hendy - Scientist, Author and Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini
  • Michaela Keeble - Poet and Children’s Book Author
  • Lisa McLaren QSM - PhD candidate, Climate Activist
  • Renee Liang - Writer and Doctor
  • David Long - Composer, Musician and Producer
  • Susan Mabin - Artist
  • Moana Maniapoto - Musician, Current Affairs host
  • Sarah Meads - Founder/Manager of Track Zero, Development Specialist
  • Joseph Michael - Visual Artist
  • Jason O’Hara - Designer, Artist and Educator
  • Della Rees - Visual Artist
  • Lisa Reihana ONZM - Artist
  • Professor James Renwick - Head of School, Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences/ Te Kura Tātai Aro Whenua, Victoria University of Wellington/Te Herenga Waka
  • Dr Jenny Rock - Scientist and Artist
  • Rob Ruha - Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou – Kōpara-tuhi (Singer/Songwriter)
  • Associate Professor Craig Stevens - Oceanographer
  • Kelcy Taratoa - Artist
  • Dr Carla van Zon ONZM - Arts Festival Artistic Director, Curator and Producer
  • Kerry Warkia - Producer and Founding Partner of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions

The group is encouraging the wider public to have their say on the consultation. Track Zero’s Collective Submission and links to resources for groups and individuals to make their own submissions can be accessed on the Track Zero website: https://trackzero.nz/get-involved/reducing-the-impact-of-plastic-on-our-environment-collective-submission/

A link to the Government proposal and submission form can be accessed:


Consultation is open until 4 December 2020.

Della Rees ‘Mandala Series II’ (floor piece) 2011. Image credit: supplied by Della Rees.
Joseph Michael ‘Voices for the Future’ lit up the United Nations General Assembly and Secretariat buildings in New York. Image credit: supplied by Joseph Michael

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