A brief report on a recent Climate Strike action in Rotorua, Aotearoa/New Zealand.
On 9th April about 100 mostly rangatahi came together in Rotorua as part of the nation-wide Climate Strike. This turnout has to be considered a success in a town of this size. Likewise when you factor in that the poor weather conditions on the day did not dampen the enthusiasm of the participants.
In the beginning, the young people gathered to listen to speeches. In some cases, these came from fellow students. The event being self-managed and driven by the youth themselves was one of the positive aspects of the day. Unfortunately, there were other speeches by (admittedly, also young) politicians in the form of a local councilor and a failed candidate from the recent general election. While not hostile to the latter, the crowd gave them polite applause in each case, rather than huge cheers. Members of Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) were present and distributed leaflets putting an alternative case to that of the professional politicians. Though most recipients didn’t read the contents immediately, the only person who actively rejected a leaflet was an elderly woman.
After the speeches, the crowd began a hikoi through the main streets. The atmosphere was cheerful rather than aggressive. Most passersby were bemused by the sight of students out of school in the middle of the afternoon. Quite a few gave support by honking car horns or waving as they drove past. After gaining some attention for the issue through these interactions, the march ended near the lakefront about an hour after it had begun. The gathering dispersed, with a number of the encouraged youth feeling it had been a worthwhile effort. No doubt for many this had been their first introduction to political activity.
We at AWSM supported and participated in the day’s action in other locations besides Rotorua. We did so in the full understanding that our own perspective would have been new to many who joined in. This in itself made it worthwhile. More importantly, for the many young participants, this was a useful exercise in self-empowerment. Hopefully, despite attempts by professional power mongers to lead them into the dead-end of appealing to the same class that has created the world’s climate problems in the first place, some will see this positive self-activity as part of a viable future solution.