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Education

Protest on behalf of the environment

It was more of a strong statement than a protest. That’s how I would describe the work done by Mercury Bay Area School students on what was School Strike 4 Climate Day.
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

The leadership team for the Environment Day strike. Marika Macdonald, Mieke Ducker, Maggie Warwick, Ruby O’Brien, Wilf Asquith, Oscar Williams, Xavier Sarich-Dunn. Front: Tahlia Osborne, Isabella Thurgood.

Many students across New Zealand in colleges and primary schools went on strike for the environment last Friday, 5 April. Some students took to the streets, waved banners, carried flags, filled footpaths with cries and statements of solidarity to combat climate change.

MBAS students went to the school field with their protest on behalf of the natural environment of our planet and the protest was addressed to every person who would see – take cognisance and think about their message.

Wilf Asquith was the initiator of the project that involved his entire school. It culminated in just over 1,000 MBAS students forming a landscape view of the chemical symbol CO2 . – dramatic, effective, quick. The Informer wasn’t in time to get the mass photo of students across the field but Principal Ross Dunn had his drone up above and got the shot.

Wilf said that there are so many issues about the environment, but they needed one simple, silent message that everyone could understand. ‘I had a lot of help bringing things together. It was a real team effort. We chose CO2.”

When talking to the students there was a lot on their minds about CO2 and how it affected so many environment issues.

Wilf’s team numbered ten including him. Together, they spoke of a strong belief that the human race can do a lot about arresting the decay and destruction of many aspects of the planet’s environment. I could see they were energised by their efforts and their concern was very real. To get just over 1,000 children and young people to focus at the one time and in the one place on CO2 for just a few minutes was an excellent achievement. Carbon dioxide emissions need to decline dramatically. This was their message.

Some comments from members of the leadership team –

“I think about the fact that we have lost a great deal of our native bush. When it’s gone – it’s all gone.”

“The ocean is very important to the life of the planet. The kind of fishing we do – bottom trawling and dredging. It has to stop. The amount of rubbish especially plastics that end up in the ocean – we are rubbishing the ocean!”

“Big changes are needed but so is compromise. Our farm animals are vital and I think taking care of our farmlands and valuing our farm animals are still very important. We don’t want to blindly hurt the economy and peoples ability to make a living.”

“New Zealand is not a big player in all of this. We are not really the issue; but every New Zealander needs to become more aware.”

“I do think we are making progress. People are more aware and are changing.”

From Wilf: “I definitely think things are not good for the planet. We need to remind ourselves we are all responsible. Today has been a group effort and I thank everyone.

“This was very much a student led initiative,” says Peter Davy, Assistant Deputy Principal, Years 7-10. “But with our full support.”

Jenny Bloom, Assistant Principal, Years 7-10, walked with the Informer after the CO2 event. “It is a real privilege working with the students on the matters that concern them. I feel very proud of what they achieved today and am glad to be a part of it. Many have remarkable minds and are serious about contributing to the future. We have astrophysicists, excellent trades and crafts people, national level sports men and women, doctors, pilots, aircraft engineers, entrepreneurs, architects and entertainers – all who were students at MBAS. That says a lot.

CO2: Without carbon dioxide, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect would be too weak to keep the average global surface temperature above freezing. By adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, people are supercharging the natural greenhouse effect, causing global temperatures to rise.

Q: Who planned the operational management of placing over 1,000 students and some staff in the shape of a CO2 in a few minutes?

A: It was Tahlia and Wilf. Well done!!