Residents in the coastal town of Thames are upset after the local council delayed signing the Local Government Leaders Climate Change Declaration.
Pressure is mounting on Thames Coromandel District Council as one of 23 councils yet to sign, while many other mayors and chairs around the country already have.
"This document and this discussion is around making sure we are doing more than mitigation [of climate change] and we need to think about what more we are doing to actually solve the problem," said Thames Coromandel councillor Rex Simpson.
Mayors and chairs of New Zealand territorial local authorities declared an urgent need in 2015 for responsive leadership and a holistic approach to climate change. This was endorsed in 2017 and a declaration drawn up.
So far, 55 councils have signed the declaration, while 23 had not. Earlier this year, the West Coast Regional Council was criticised for declining to sign, pending more scientific evidence.
Thames was the biggest town in the Coromandel region and was all too familiar with the impact of climate change. Last January, Tararu was flooded by rising seas and a king tide.
Thames residents approached by Local Focus agreed the council should do more to help tackle climate change.
"We are vulnerable on the Thames coast," Simpson said. "The thing that we've got to remember in terms of climate change, is that it's not just sea inundation but our bigger problem is weather events."
Thames Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie declined to be interviewed but has been reported as saying it would be irresponsible to commit ratepayers to "a contract without knowing specifications".
Simpson said he understood the council has delayed signing as it didn't want to commit ratepayers to something unquantifiable.
"[But] my personal opinion is that we should sign it," Simpson said. "Other councils have taken the lead and I think we're a bit late to the party."
Residents who disagreed with the council's stance were being encouraged to make their voices heard before the council was next to discuss the issue in April.
"Make sure you get hold of your local representative and make your views known," Simpson said. "After all, they represent you."
The signators to the declaration can be viewed here.