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School Strike 4 Climate Otepoti spokeswoman Hailey Xavier (17) said it was a raw protest that showed how young people in the city were feeling.
The year 13 Kavanagh College pupil shouted slogans through a megaphone at the head of a march of about 500 pupils and climate activists.
When the marchers reached the Octagon, the pupils called for an end to coal boiler use in schools by 2025, a cut to agricultural emissions and for the Dunedin City Council’s 10-year plan to do more to deal with climate change.
When introducing the King's and Queen's High Schools' kapa haka group, Tumai Cassidy called for the replacement of destructive land-use practices with ones that aligned with indigenous knowledge.
In an emotional speech, first-year University of Otago bachelor of arts and law student Fagasele Kiatua Ulika, of Tuvalu, said fewer than 12,000 people lived in Tuvalu, but among them were members of her immediate family.
They were experiencing some of the first effects of climate change.
"If we save Tuvalu, we save the world," she said.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who attended yesterday’s march and rally, said climate change had to be at the forefront of the council’s upcoming 2021-31 plan, now out for consultation.
This was the last 10-year cycle before the council had to meet its 2030 net zero carbon goal and the plan would be voted on within earshot of yesterday’s protest.
While many in the crowd were too young to vote, the march showed there was no age limit to being an engaged citizen, he said.