Some of New Zealand’s top Māori leaders, scientists, and economic development experts are set to speak at an emergency climate change summit .
At Waitangi in February 2018, the Iwi Chairs Forum agreed to convene the first Māori Leaders’ Climate Change Summit to be held in Wellington on 24-25 March 2018.
With a line-up of expert presenters and interactive workshops, the Summit aims to update Māori leaders about the state of our climate.
Speakers include New Zealand’s top climate change expert, Dr James Renwick; senior meteorologist at New Zealand MetService, Erick Brenstrum; Canterbury health leader and former kaiwhakahaere (chairman) of Ngāi Tahu, Sir Mark Solomon (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kurī); public health specialist, Dr Rhys Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu); and senior business journalist, Rod Oram.
Co-convenor, Mike Smith (Ngaa Puhi), says the Summit is being held in response to the unprecedented recent extreme weather events, and associated economic and social costs.
“We have dire predictions coming from the scientific community about the future of our planet with the rapidly warming climate,” he says.
“National temperature records have been comprhensively broken this summer, and many communities have been inundated by extreme flooding and storm surges”
“Despite this, we’ve had a complete lack of cohesive national strategy in New Zealand to reduce our emissions and act on the effects of climate change.
“Just down the road from where we’re holding the Māori Leaders’ Climate Change Summit, oil and gas executives will be meeting Government representatives at their own annual conference.
“This oil conference is all about looking to exploit new oil and gas reserves in New Zealand, with no regard for the fact that science tells us that we can’t even burn the majority of the fossil fuel reserves that have been discovered if we are to avoid extremely dangerous climate change.”
Smith says the Māori Leaders’ Climate Change Summit will consider the role of Māori and marae as first responders to climate related civil emergencies, and will share information and skills about community resilience and adaptation.
“The summit has been prompted by the widespread concern and opposition to the previous Government’s aggressive oil exploration policy, which has resulted in protest action all over the country over the past six years,” he says.
“It will be a critical event for all Māori leaders, Whānau, hāpu, and iwi who care about the wellbeing of their people now and that of future generations.”
Smith says growing opposition to fossil fuel exploration and extraction in New Zealand has recently resulted in the Iwi Chairs Forum passing a historical motion at its national hui to oppose any further oil exploration.