After 11 years as chair of 350 Aotearoa, I stepped down in July to make way for the amazing Naushyn Janah to take the reins. 

As I close my time at 350 Aotearoa, naturally I have been reflecting on the impact we have made since we started out. I sat down recently with the Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw, and we talked about the huge cultural change that has happened over the last ten years in how climate change is perceived by the public. Ten years ago climate change denial was rife and there was only the inkling of a climate movement. We were squarely at the stage of needing to build a movement, and start to challenge the power of the fossil fuel industry and its allies. 

I’m really proud of the role 350 Aotearoa has played in helping to nurture and grow the climate movement since 2008, supporting it to move forwards and sideways. 

We took on movement building with gusto. In 2009 we had more than 160 actions around the country on a single day, from dozens of schools to church groups to surfers and cyclists. We covered the country – and the globe – with the number 350.  

young boy on a field holding up a sign that reads "350 makes a difference" there are people behind him

A young lad from Wanaka doing a run for 350 in 2009.

aerial shot of many people with their cyclists standing in the formation to write the numbers 350

An outline of cyclists making a 350 outline on Wellington’s waterfront

We forged relationships with politicians across the spectrum – from presenting to the whole Labour and Green Party Caucuses to attending National’s Blue Greens conference. A number of people who have been involved with 350 Aotearoa have gone on to become MPs and Ministers (such as former board member, and now Minister of Conservation Kiritapu Allan). It’s been so important for us to keep these political connections alive – even while we’ve mostly focused on campaigning for corporates to change their ways in recent years.

In 2012, in partnership with Generation Zero, we took movement building to the next level, with PowerShift NZ-Pacific, which saw 700 young people coming to Auckland for a weekend of training and inspiration. I like to think this work, along with our partners like Generation Zero laid the foundations for the mass movement we have seen in recent years.

a crowd of young people sitting on chairs and one person walking through the crowed who has his arms raised and is yelling something exitedly

Myself firing up the crowd at PowerShift NZ-Pacific

It’s been in our DNA from the outset to look beyond our borders, because climate change has no concern for them, and because well, we have to do everything we can. When we became the first hub for outside of the United States, we also took on outreach across the Pacific Islands. This was a revolutionary time – the internet meant that we could connect in real time to places that had seemed so far away until then – from the Marshall Islands to Palau to Kiribati and Tuvalu. 

We built a network across the Pacific very quickly, and in 2011 I was fortunate enough to become the Oceania Regional coordinator. Working with our local contacts, we started running Pacific Climate Leadership trainings – across 13 of the Pacific Islands. Then along came Koreti Tiumalu, who we hired to organise in Pasifika communities in New Zealand, in time for PowerShift NZ-Pacific. It was at that event that we hatched the plan for the Pacific Climate Warriors, with the rallying call “We are not drowning, we are fighting!” 

It is so inspiring to see the work that the Pacific Climate Warriors now do to raise up Pasifika stories and communities in the face of climate change.

Koreti took over as Pacific Coordinator in 2014, until she very sadly suddenly passed away in 2017. She was an incredible friend, speaker, and connector across cultures, and left a huge legacy for the climate movement. 

Portrait of a women

Koreti Tiumalu preparing for Power Shift NZ-Pacific


We’ve been fortunate to be part of a global movement from whom we can learn from and exchange ideas. Our campaign inspiration has often come from seeing the leadership of Bill McKibben and the global team. This was very much the case in 2013 when we launched the Fossil Free campaign as Bill McKibben toured the country. Shortly after, Niamh O’Flynn joined us as Executive Director, who brought fantastic campaign instinct. The Fossil Free campaign took off, and very quickly we were chalking up wins. 

A photo of a group of people holding banners outside the train station in Dunedin

350 Ōtepoti Dunedin calling on Kiwibank, TSB, and the Cooperative Bank to pick up the pace and guarantee New Zealanders a banking option which ensures our money will never be used to fuel the climate crisis.


Seven years later, and we have now won 25 campaigns and announcements  – from universities announcing divestment to Kiwibank announcing it would become Aotearoa’s first fossil free bank. It’s a track record we can be really proud of, and is a testament to the amazing work of our volunteer teams, staff, and board.

I spent some time compiling that list of wins, because often when you are campaigning on climate change, it can feel unwinnable and that we’re too small to matter. But what we’ve shown is that when we come together we can make real change and impact – even from little old Aotearoa. 

There are so many people who deserve recognition for the work they do in the climate movement – whether it is running a local group, showing up to action after action, march after march, or helping cook food at hui. Every bit counts, and is helping build a healthier future for our children and our planet. 

I want to lastly acknowledge one of our great leaders in all this, Erica Finnie, who was there as a secondary school student when we started 350 Aotearoa in 2008 and has been our Executive Director for the past 3 or so years. She has been foundational in making sure climate justice is centred in the work that 350 Aoteaora does. She also leaves 350 Aotearoa this month and has left big shoes to fill, but I know that with Alva Feldmeier as our new Executive Director, alongside our small team of staff, board, and many volunteers, 350 Aotearoa has its best years ahead of it.


Campaign/target Date of win
Government announcement that makes Aotearoa the first country in the world to require the financial sector to report on climate risks.

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September 2020
Win! our multi-year campaign calling for Kiwibank to cut its ties with coal, oil, and gas companies – making it the first bank in Aotearoa to commit to never invest in or lend to coal, oil, and gas companies

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July 2020
Government announces that all default Kiwisaver funds to divest from fossil fuels

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29 Feb 2020
WIN! AIG drop Adani

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4 November 2019
Students Celebrate As University of Auckland Ditches Fossil Fuels

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31 August 2019
Win! Fonterra commits to no new coal boilers

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18 July 2019
Simplicity divests from fossil fuels

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June 2018
On June 16th 2018, Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, and Minister for Energy and resources, Megan Woods, announced that the application for the part of Te Kuha Mine on conservation land, the 12 hectares that are part of the Mt Rochfort Conservation Park, has been declined. This decision came after months of campaigning by 350 Aotearoa, Coal Action Network Aotearoa and Forest and Bird for strong opposition to the mine.

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16 June 2018
Government decision marks “the beginning of the end for the fossil fuel industry in NZ” – 350 Aotearoa

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12 April 2018
Forest and Bird finally leave ANZ publicly because of our work with them

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March 2018
Otago Uni commits to dumping coal boilers!

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October 2017
NZ SuperFund commits to divesting $950 million from fossil fuels

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August 2017
NZ insurer MAS go Fossil Free

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July 2017
After negotiations with Westpac Group, Westpac NZ calls us to call off our actions because Westpac rules out funding Adani’s Carmichael mine!

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April 2017
Win! The University of Canterbury has partially divests!

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12 April 2017
Win! Auckland Council vote to Go Fossil Free

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11 April 2017
Win! Otago University Go Fossil Free

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13 September 2016
Victory! ANZ pull out of oil sponsorship!

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14 March 2016
Tertiary Education Union votes to divest!

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August 2016
Dunedin City Council divests!

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May 2015
Christchurch City Holdings (ie the Christchurch City Council) announced it would exclude fossil fuels from its investments

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Feb 2015
Victoria University of Wellington announces it will divest from Fossil Fuels

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2 December 2014
Presbyterian Church voted to divest from Fossil Fuels

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7 October 2014
Five Anglican Church Dioceses lead the way in fossil fuel divestment

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29 September 2013


25 wins