Climate strike again

On Friday 5 April thousands of students left school and university to protest for more action on climate change. They were joined by adults and young children who support their goals.

The protests were held in 20 cities and towns around New Zealand, including Whangārei, Auckland, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Wānaka and Invercargill. The organisers, School Strike 4 Climate, said their aim was to “raise awareness about the urgent need for climate action and to demand meaningful policy changes to combat the climate crisis”. That means that they want people to understand the problems that climate change is causing, and they want the government to develop plans to reduce emissions.

The students are particularly concerned about some of the government’s new policies, including the promise to allow oil and gas exploration again, and the proposed new Fast Track Approval bill which is currently going through Parliament. This new law would speed up approval of infrastructure and development projects, if they are of national or regional significance. However, government ministers would make the final decisions, and many environmental groups are concerned that these ministers may ignore environmental protections because they want to develop the economy.

This protest was not only about climate change though. School Strike 4 Climate joined with two other organisations, Toitū Te Tiriti and Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa, so they had two other demands – toitū Te Tiriti or honour the Treaty of Waitangi, and to “free Palestine” and stop the war in Gaza. The students also want the voting age to be lowered to 16. Currently, only people who are 18 and over can vote in New Zealand, but 16 and 17-year-olds say that they are affected by government decisions, so they want a say in choosing the government.

 Students who left school to go to the protests missed some classes. Schools keep records of students’ attendance, and absences are noted as either ‘justified’ (that is, the student had a good reason to be absent), or ‘unjustified’. The Secondary Principals’ Association president said that it is up to schools to decide if absence from school to go to the climate strike was justified or not. David Seymour, the leader of the ACT party and the Associate Education Minister, said that students should have been in school, but the founder of School Strike 4 Climate, Sophie Handford, said if Seymour did not want students to miss school, he needed to take the climate crisis more seriously.

If you’d like to listen to the news about the climate strike in New Zealand in 2019, go to Students striking for Climate.


strike – in this context, strike means to stop doing your normal work to protest

protest (verb) – to do or say something publicly, often with other people, to show that you disagree with something

protest (noun) – an event where people come together to say they disagree with something

emissions – gasses that are released into the air