Hundreds of pupils to join climate change strike

Organisers of the Mount Aspiring College school strike for climate change, (from left) Billea-Nova Chin-Nyika (16), Laura Watkins (13), Siena Shotwell (15) and Maddy Thompson (16) hope to send the Government a message that climate change can no longer be
Organisers of the Mount Aspiring College school strike for climate change, (from left) Billea-Nova Chin-Nyika (16), Laura Watkins (13), Siena Shotwell (15) and Maddy Thompson (16) hope to send the Government a message that climate change can no longer be ignored. Photo: Sean Nugent
Hundreds of schoolchildren from around Otago and Southland are set to join the nationwide School Strike 4 Climate tomorrow.

In Wanaka, Mount Aspiring College pupils and members of the general public will march from the college down to the Lake Wanaka foreshore at 1.30pm, before returning to the college at 3pm.

Organisers of the protest, Billea-Nova Chin Nyika, Laura Watkins, Siena Shotwell and Maddy Thompson said they wanted the Government to realise it needed ''to take action now''.

''We're the leaders of tomorrow. We've been left this world and we need to take care of it.

''All of a sudden it's well on the road to ruin and the only people who are going to be able to do something about it are us, and we need to take action rather than watch it idly go by.''

The quartet hoped ''at least half'' of the school's 1100 pupils would take part in the strike.

Wanaka Primary School principal Wendy Bamford said children from the Upper Clutha's three primary schools would not be involved.

Over 50 Queenstown pupils will also take to the streets to protest - starting at the Queenstown Gardens rotunda at 2.45pm, winding its way along Marine Parade and around the lake to the One Mile roundabout.

Wakatipu High School pupil Indigo Little (16) said she and her peers wanted to get involved in the movement ''as we believe our regional and district council, as well as national government, could and should be doing more to protect our environmental future''.

''We believe sufficient action is not being taken to prevent climate change and that the united voice of the New Zealand students will create conversation and meaningful change around this.''

They were aiming for participation from about 80 high school pupils and invited primary school pupils to join.

In Invercargill, a group of pupils will march from Invercargill Library to the city council from noon.

James Hargest College principal Andy Woods acknowledged that some of his pupils would be attending the protest.

''We have an enviro group and they told us they are planning to go. They followed all the school protocols.''

Other Invercargill school principals did not want to comment about the strike, while Environment Southland said it was not aware of any protest.

''[Our] team haven't been told about any climate change protests from the schools they're involved with''.

Despite all the action elsewhere, no strikes were planned in the Clutha or Waitaki districts.

However, Waitaki Girls' High School Enviroschools co-captain Breanna Greaney (17) said the school would look at doing something similar to the School Strike 4 Climate in Oamaru later this year.

In Central Otago, Maniototo Area School principal Joe Ferdinands said there were no plans for pupils to partake in a rally as an impending Education Review Office review ''had been the focus this week''.

''While we are not directly involved in any public demonstration, the focus for us throughout the year will be on sustainability and the environment. If [the pupils] can have their voice heard, I think it's a very good thing.''

Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch confirmed a group of pupils had made banners and would be situated at Cromwell's Barry Avenue tomorrow afternoon between 12.30pm and 3.10pm.

Dunstan High School and Roxburgh Area School could not be reached for comment yesterday on whether there were any protests planned.

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