Miley Cyrus – The Climb
In 2009, I was flying to Korea and on the plane they had those seats with the mp3 player and the little earphones you'd put in. "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus started playing and I was on my way to my first-ever climate conference ["I gotta be strong/Just keep pushing on"]. I was 11. In my school we'd been given this essay competition where you write about why you love the environment and if you won you'd go to this conference that taught kids how to be sustainable. There were only three of us from the Pacific, among 300 kids. I was introduced to 350.org, the global movement, and I went home and started 350 Samoa.
'King Kapisi - Screams From Da Old Plantation
One of my first climate projects in Samoa was a fun run where I got the whole community to come out, we did a little march, we picked up rubbish and we gave everyone plants to take home. I was 12. My mum and dad got someone to video me and the soundtrack they used was "Screams From Da Old Plantation" by King Kapisi. Every time I hear that song now I think about my early work as a child in the climate movement. At the time I wasn't keen on the video but I'm so grateful we have it now.
Vaniah Toloa – Samoa e maopo'opo mai
In my mid-teens, I came together with other 350 Pacific organizations to form Pacific Climate Warriors for a conference in Germany. We were asked to present and I performed a dance about the toloa bird, known for flying the furthest distances but always returning home. I danced to "Samoa e maopo'opo mai" by Vaniah Toloa, drawing parallels with the song, saying the problem with climate migration is this sense that if islands sink they can just move people and they'll be fine. But, like the toloa bird, we can fly to the other side of the ocean but we still want to return home. Everyone stood up and I was surprised to see so many stern activists dance. That night in the hostel a German guy said, "I've never seen so many German people dance, and not be drunk."
Logo Te Pate (Moana Soundtrack) by Opetaia Foa'i, Olivia Foa'i, Talaga Steve Sale
I'd moved here for uni and during the School Strikes 4 Climate at the beginning of 2019 there were some Pasifika students who didn't feel comfortable with the majority being Pākehā. So for the September Strike, the Pacific Warriors in Auckland offered to gather everyone in Albert Park and walk down together, creating a community feel. Being in the CBD, sometimes I walk down Queen St and I don't feel as comfortable as I do in South Auckland. We played "Logo Te Pate" and it was nice to be able to play music from a loudspeaker, and feel more at home. What was beautiful about that strike was the different people who came together for the one cause.
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Nina Simone - I wish I knew how I could be free
I love Nina Simone and this song makes me think about the intersectionality of climate change - how there is no climate justice without racial justice, without gender justice, without justice for those who have been displaced or disenfranchised, due to capitalism and colonialism. Those are the real driving forces behind climate change, this capitalist system where we consume and consume. Nina Simone was a big part of the civil rights movement in America, and when I think about that song, it helps me reflect on everything that is broken in the world, but also how it can be fixed. Music has the ability to really capture people who may not necessarily want to be reading dissertations on climate change.
Beyoncé - Formation
I had a few minutes with the Queen. She was speaking to all of us winners [of the Commonwealth Youth Award] and she spent a good amount of time with me, clearly from the Pacific as I wore a puletasi, my island wear. She had a lot to say about Tuvalu as it was one of her first visits, when she first got the crown. She remembered the people of Tuvalu being so kind to her even though she wasn't 100 per cent sure how she would be, as a queen. She also knew Tuvalu was in great danger from climate change. It was great to see how Tuvaluan culture had touched her. I have a friend who calls himself the Beehive Metre in Auckland and when I first told him I met the Queen he was like, "you met Beyoncé?'"I said, "No, Queen Elizabeth" and he said: "Well you haven't met Beyonce yet so you haven't met the real queen." My favourite song of Beyoncé's is "Formation", I play it whenever I protest.
Brianna Fruean is a Climate Activist and the youngest person to get the Commonwealth Youth Award. Recently she was selected as one of the 25 young wāhine toa on the YWCA's Y25.