“So whose side are you on? Are you on the side of an orange guy who can’t make a tweet without making a typo – or do you want to be on the right side of history and make a difference?”
So asked Mount Maunganui College Year 13 student Zoe de Malmanche of the group of students who gathered in Mount Maunganui as part of Friday’s school strikes which were inspired by the Fridays For The Future movement.
Hundreds of thousands of school children took part in 2052 marches in 123 countries around the world. From 150,000 marching in Montreal Canada against Climate Change to 70 school children in Mount Maunganui, school students took their education out onto the street to #climatestrike.
The marches were inspired by 16-year-old climate activist and now Nobel Peace prize nominee Greta Thunberg who staged her first protest against climate change in August last year. She spoke at the UN Climate Talks in Poland in December and at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.
“On climate change, we have to acknowledge that we have failed,” she told global economic leaders in Davos.
Zoe’s speech illicited whoops from the Bay of Plenty crowd for its clarity and succinctness.
“If I had a shot of vodka for everyone said to me “the march won’t make a difference…” I would be very drunk right now. We can always make a difference. So many of our taxpayers and our politicians say our demands are too big. What they miss is that we don’t have an economy if we don’t have the earth.
Zoe is a part of an environmental group at Mount Maunganui College.
“The group has 15 of us in it – just two of them guys. Omanu Primary school runs a similar group with twice as many students involved and an even split of the genders.
“I want to understand what happens that we lose our morals between primary school and high school. Don’t be afraid to be unpopular or to be too uncool for caring – be passionate about our future. The world needs the weirdos; we need your craziness; that’s what will change things – not the conformists.”
“People need to pick up their rubbish and to save the planet. At home we do recycling and grow our own food and we don’t get the fruit that has the yucky spray.”
“We want to raise awareness about climate change,” said Jack, one of the students protesting.
“The world is going to be a lot more dirty and the sea won’t be the same and will be more polluted if we don’t change the way we do things.”
“People need to use more electric cars, and less fossil fuels, as well as eco power and solar panels,” said Frank, another student involved.
“I’m disappointed that some local schools put out notices to say students were not to get
involved, while others remained neutral,” said co-organiser of the Mount march Dr Coral Dixon.
“As a doctor and as a public health registrar we worry about what a ruined and diseased planet means for our personal health. We cannot be healthy, if the planet is unhealthy.”
Banner Image: Mount Maunganui Intermediate and Primary students left to right Jack Danby, Sean Collins, Frank Danby and Eli Collins. Photo by Wanda Hopkinson, aged 10.