Take shorter showers and don't wait for state to act on climate change - mātauranga Māori researcher

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Environmental academic and mātauranga Māori researcher Dan Hikuroa says he is alarmed by the latest code red report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change but not surprised.

“I'm really concerned, to be honest. The detail in this report and the information that is brought together paints quite a scary picture,” he said

The report shows estimates of continued warming. Researchers forecast that within decades the planet temperatures will rise 1.5C. Hikuroa says these findings are gravely concerning.

“That temperature rise, we may or may not hit it in 10 years. What's certain though is we could hit it before then or it might be just after then. We're set on a path. We will not stop at 1.5 but we will definitely hit that”

He outlined his concerns for indigenous people across the globe, especially the Pacific Islands. He is mindful of the impact melting ice caps and sea levels rising will have on New Zealand's relations across the Pacific.

“So those people who have done literally the least to contribute gases that lead to global warming, which has led to climate change, will be some of the most severely impacted. And it's not something in the future, it's happening now” he said

He’s backed by Māori Climate Commissioner Donna Awatere-Huata.

“Every report that has come out shows we are going to be hit the hardest and particularly our rural sector. Unemployment, displacement our papakāinga areas all of that has already started,” she said.

Opposition 'in denial'

As a former ACT MP, Awatere-Huata is critical of the opposition using the climate issue for political gain

“I'm hugely disappointed in National and ACT, who are running a campaign almost borderline climate denial,” she said

New Zealand signed up to the Paris Agreement under the 2016 National government.

National climate change spokesperson Stuart Smith says that with their Emission Trade Scheme the renewable share increased from around 65 per cent to near 85 per cent and it had all gone "backwards" under Labour.

“National is calling on the government to abandon expensive and pointless policies such as the ‘Ute Tax’ and the 100 percent renewable electricity target and use the existing Emissions Trading Scheme as the primary tool for reducing emissions. We should only supplement the Emissions Trading Scheme with complementary policies where there is a strong rationale and independent advice to do so.”

Don't rely on Wellington

Although Hikuroa agrees the government is on track, he’s urging everyone to get on board, and to be more mindful of how everyone is contributing to the overall climate crisis.

“There is this responsibility on everyone and all the things we do within that stage to try to do that will limit our greenhouse gas emissions. Like taking shorter showers.

“We need to be tika and pono and can’t rely on a rules-based system coming from Wellington.”

An expert in the implementation of mātauranga Māori, Hikuroa is aware that tangible solutions lie within Mātauranga Māori and knowledge from indigenous peoples of the world.

“This recognition that there is this knowledge system out there; it's codified differently from science but it is just as reliable, it is just as accurate, just as precise.”

“Hence when we are in a code red, it's our responsibility to draw from all the knowledge that is available, even if we haven't understood what that knowledge has meant to date.”