Our work on climate change

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August 1, 2017

Last year the Strategy and Influence team at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu embarked on a new workstream to ensure Ngāi Tahu continues to progress culturally and economically through climate change.

Chris Brankin, Policy Advisor, Strategy and Influence, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, says this workstream was developed because Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu identified climate change as a key priority area.

“Thinking about the effects climate change will have on our lands and development is essential to our growth as an iwi,” he says.

As part of the workstream, a climate change survey was sent out to whānau. This was the first time Te Rūnanga has used a survey like this to get information.

We can now report back that the survey had over 300 responses and was completed by members of all Papatipu Rūnanga. Some of the key findings from the survey were:

  • 72% of respondents considered themselves to be moderately or very informed about climate change.
  • In terms of effects on their rohe, the biggest concerns of respondents were sea level rise (81%), warming oceans (74%), coastal erosion (73%) and extreme weather events (71%).
  • The second tier of concerns (50 to 60% of responses) were rainfall patterns, ecosystem health, temperature changes, freshwater quality and mahinga kai impacts.
  • The third tier of concerns (40 to 50% of responses) were flooding, decreased access to food gathering sites, drought, changing ocean currents, effects on human health, increased costs of living, pollution and access to freshwater.
  • The final tier of concerns (20 to 30% of responses) were economic decline, work opportunities and increased frost/snow events.
  • The internet is a primary source of information for whānau, with television, newspapers, academic sources and international media also featuring highly.
  • Whānau have noticed changing weather patterns in their rohe (83%), as well as temperature changes (72%), more frequent extreme weather events (63%) and coastal erosion (55%).
  • 95% were not aware that their Rūnanga had adopted any specific climate change policies or objectives, and 69% were not aware of any plans to reduce the effects of climate change within their Rūnanga or in their rohe.
  • For those that were aware of policies, objectives and plans, they mentioned recycling, use of renewable energy, afforestation, reducing energy demand, changing farming practices, sustainable business practice, moving away from fossil fuels in favour of public transport and electric vehicles.
  • In relation climate change risks, responses mentioned coastal infrastructure, flood mitigation, water storage, water use restrictions, changes in planting plans and use of coastal barriers, the majority of which was associated with local government actions, followed by Rūnanga and community groups.
  • When asked to choose between reducing carbon emissions and afforestation as mitigation options, 58% selected reducing emissions and 42% afforestation.
  • Some whānau offered to help with communicating about and planning for climate change response.

“While we recognise this survey is not all the information we require, it is a great base of information,” says Chris.

The next stage of this project will see the Strategy and Influence team undertake wider consultation across the takiwā.

“I am really looking forward to engaging further with whānau and Papatipu Rūnanga to gain a greater understanding of effect climate change is having on their lives,” says Chris.

Please keep an eye on our website for further information on this workstream and the dates of the upcoming Papatipu Rūnanga visits.

A link to the survey can be found here. 

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