On September 8, thousands of rallies were held in cities and towns around the world to demand our local leaders commit to building a fossil free world that works for all of us. All across Aotearoa we came together to show what solidarity looks like, to show what it will take to build our fossil free future, and to show world politicians what real climate leadership demands. It looks like people; people rising for the climate.
Our weekend began on Rāmere (Friday) in Ōtautahi (Christchurch), where locals met in the Transitional Cathedral to hear from fellow Canterburians, who work in the climate movement. The evening brought a variety of thoughts and perspectives, including Dr Matthews Hughes of University of Canterbury, who urged the importance for a sense of hope. ‘One of the biggest risks is engaging in dark, apocalyptic thinking about potential consequences…although disaster is possible, current and future generations deserve better than simple resignation on our climate’.
Then, the following morning on Rāhoroi (Saturday), Aucklanders were outside Tāmaki Paenga Hira (Auckland War Memorial Museum), contributing to the history of Tāmaki makaurau (Auckland). It was great to see a huge diversity of people come along, to make a piece of bunting, sharing what climate change means to them. These pieces were joined to make a 40 meter long banner. This will be presented to the Museum as a gift to encourage them to refuse funding from fossil fuel companies, such as coal provider, Stevenson Group. We were also joined by our 350 Pacific whānau, who had come from their own Rise event celebrating their region-wide Pacific Pawa campaign.
The service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Auckland was also followed by some climate action, with the community showing solidarity for Rise and the fossil free movement.
In between the usual Saturday morning bustle and welcoming te kapa Ōpango (the All Blacks) to town, Nelsonians gathered on Pikimai (Cathedral hill), singing how we’re going to ‘rise to face this crisis’. It was great to see so many enthusiastic people, ready to take on climate action. We’re excited to see what we can achieve when this new 350 group launch their first campaign in the coming months!
Meanwhile in Ōtepoti (Dunedin), we gathered in the Octagon to show what can be achieved with some mana tangata (people power). Over the last few years, we’ve had some great wins, including Dunedin City Council being the first city council to divest from fossil fuels. So the crowd gathered with a dynamic array of banners illustrating the steps they’ve taken, and the steps yet to come in building a fossil free Ōtepoti. A highlight was the the electric pahikara (bicycle), our friends brought along from the Valley Community Workspace.
In Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington), our hīkoi (march) of climate superheros were thanked by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw “We’re on the cusp, and that’s largely due to your consistent and persistent actions over the course of the last few decades that have got us to this point. So I just want to thank you”. We sung, chanted, danced our way to Civic square; super-kurī (dog), a brass band, and all. The highlight was sharing the mic with so many of our friends and colleagues who work in solidarity across the climate movement – Pacific Climate Warriors, Oil Free Wellington, Generation Zero, and Climate Justice Taranaki. Together we proved we won’t be waiting for climate action from above, it will be the everyday heroes who’ll rise from below to push for our fossil free future!
Back in Ōtautahi, we were hosting a second event. This time a spring fair celebrating our carbon-sinking friends, the trees. We were joined by members of the community to swap seedlings, learn about food forests and animal welfare.
It was a real pleasure to have Whanganui and Waihōpai (Invercargill) join in for Rise for Climate too. Ever since Bill McKibben’s Fossil Free Acceleration tour, our friends in Whanganui have been inspired to take action. They were at their market spreading the word about Rise for climate. And, in Waihōpai, our friends there were making climate commitments they’re going to stick to. We’re looking forward to more climate action from these centres in the near future!
Finally, on Rāhina (Monday) we joined the Pacific Climate Warriors at their Rise event at Te Whare Wānanga o te Upoko o Te Ika a Māui (Victoria University). It was a great day full of music, personal storytelling, and dance performances from the different islands.
We’re so appreciative of everyone who joined us at our Rise for Climate events. This is not the beginning, and nor is it the end; our climate movement is strong and growing!
Check out what happened around the globe: