James Shaw recalls an email he received last year from a Northland man, whose farm had been in the family for a century.
"They were just coming out of drought; his dad had dealt with four of them in his lifetime... he'd seen seven in just the last 10 years," Shaw said.
"He just said, look, this is happening and it's affecting my farm... I can see it, alright."
As our planet continues to warm, the Climate Change Minister hopes more Kiwis will start associating their own experiences with what scientists have been warning of for decades.
At this point, however, he fears most people still aren't making the connection.
That's partly because New Zealand, with its temperate, maritime climate, hasn't repeatedly been grappling with the same dramatic extremes becoming all too common in California, Europe, Australia and the Pacific.
When smoke and ash blown from Australia's unprecedented wildfires turned our skies a ghastly orange, he said, the message should have been unavoidably clear to us.
"But of course, Covid arrived a month later and kind of wiped it from our memories."
Amid a pandemic, the other great catastrophe of our times hasn't gone away.
Globally, 2021 is tracking as the fifth-warmest year observed on record.
The Northern Hemisphere saw its hottest-ever summer, while New Zealand registered its balmiest winter, after topping a record set only last year.
Niwa forecasters similarly expect this year will finish somewhere among this country's five warmest, with above-average temperatures, stretches of excessive heat, and the return of marine heatwave conditions all on the cards before 2022.
Already, observers like Noll have been surprised at the number of disastrous deluges that have hit the country this year, leaving insurers with one of their worst totals for annual damage claims.
As always, climate change wasn't the only driver behind the floods that hit Canterbury, the West Coast, Wellington and West Auckland.
But the events highlighted what Kiwis can expect to see more of, with "atmospheric rivers", stretching all the way from warmed sub-tropical oceans, packing extra moisture into visiting low-pressure systems.
Whereas meteorologists once would have been reluctant to implicate global warming in shorter-term climate and weather trends, Niwa's Ben Noll said its background influence was now "kind of forcing our hands".
Even a decade ago, Noll said the climate signal wasn't so strong in events like extreme rainfall and flooding, warm oceans and rising temperatures.
The last time New Zealand recorded a month of below-average temperatures, relative to the soon-to-change 1981-2010 baseline, was January 2017 - nearly 60 months ago.
When we push the timescale back even further, the picture becomes yet more dramatic.
Over 111 years, the national average has climbed by about 1.13C. While there's been an increase of 0.10C per decade since 1909, that rate has quickened to 0.31C per decade in the past 30 years.
A recent Government analysis showed that, at 18 of 30 sites it covered, there's been a clear uptick in "heatwave days" - or stretches where daily maximums soar more than 5C above the monthly average.
"Some parts of New Zealand have seen more than five times as many hot days in the most recent decade compared to the 1980s," Victoria University climate scientist Dr Luke Harrington said.
"This is a massive change over just 30 years and in response to only half a degree of global warming."
It was just these heatwave conditions in 2019 that primed Nelson's Pigeon Valley for the country's biggest wildfire in 70 years – resulting in 2300ha of razed pine forest, and the forced evacuation of 2,500 people.
Fewer than two decades from now, days with very high or extreme fire danger are projected to increase by an average of 70 per cent, due to hotter, drier and windier conditions.
Decades of rainfall data show some regions have been drying over time – many of them in the northern North Island – while spots in the south and west of the South Island are growing wetter.
Harrington thought it unlikely there'd be any major changes in such geographic patterns of relative change.
"If I were to pick a hotspot of future climate change in Aotearoa, Northland would be hard to look past," he said.
"They are projected to see larger-than-average increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme rainfall events, while at the same time being exposed to longer dry periods as the sub-tropical high-pressure belt continues to expand under climate change."
It's within an area of climate science called attribution that scientists like Harrington are teasing out the human role in recent extreme weather events.
Most such studies consider two sets of climate model simulations – those representing the climate of today, and those with an equivalent climate but for the removal of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions – to assess changes in the frequency and severity of witnessing an event like the one experienced in the real world.
By repeating these two sets of experiments many times, a probabilistic estimate emerges of how much less severe - and therefore impactful - that event would have been in a world without climate change.
Months after a five-day storm hit Northland in February 2015, putting thousands of hectares of dairy land underwater and causing an estimated $18 million in damage, Niwa scientists concluded that our meddling with the climate had approximately doubled the chances of it happening.
With paleoclimate evidence suggesting it's been about 10,000 years since the average annual temperature was as high as it is today, many our cherished native species are also being pushed closer to the brink.
Those temperatures we're now feeling are likely to be near the top of the range that current ecosystems have experienced.
In some cases, it's been too much to bear: the 2017-18 marine heatwave led to a complete loss of rimurapa, or bull kelp, at reefs in Lyttelton and other places.
Many native birds have already retreated into cooler parts of their former habitats because there are more predators like possums, rats and stoats in warmer lowland forests.
Amid our mountains, glaciers have shrunk in volume by a third since the 1970s.
And around our coasts, the mean relative sea level has risen, on average over a century, about 1.81mm each year.
Just as with temperatures, most of that shift has come over recent decades: the average rate since 1961 has been twice that of the half-century before.
Researchers have found that, far from being oblivious to the risk of rising seas, many Kiwis over-estimate what levels scientists project out to 2100 – something they worried could lead to feelings of anxiety and helplessness rather than motivation.
Still, together with more frequent drought, the combined hazard of higher seas and wilder storms pose a problem New Zealand will feel particularly keenly.
Last year, climate researcher Belinda Storey warned thousands of seaside homes could face soaring insurance premiums - or even have some cover pulled altogether - within only 15 years.
In Wellington, only another 10cm of sea level rise - expected by 2040 - could push up the probability of a flood five-fold, making it a one-in-20-year event.
Storey, managing director at research organisation Climate Sigma, felt that while some Kiwis might demand climate action out of a sense of altruism, the material impact on our assets and finances would come to serve as its own force.
"My personal motivation is that if I can demonstrate how climate change is impacting people's financial wellbeing today, then they're more likely to be motivated to try to slow down climate change."
Surveys indicate that most of the population is now aware of the climate crisis, if not worried about it, and accept that humans are driving it.
The latest of IAG's yearly-commissioned polls found just a quarter of Kiwis think the Government is moving fast enough on the issue, while only a third are confident New Zealand will be able to reduce the impacts.
Nine in 10 thought climate change would increase coastal inundation due to sea-level rise; 85 per cent thought it would lead to more frequent and intense storms and floods; 88 per cent expected more frequent and extreme droughts, and 83 per cent anticipated more frequent and extreme wildfires.
This month, a separate, Massey University-run survey went as far as breaking us all down into five demographics based on our views toward climate change: the "alarmed" (accounting for 25 per cent of Kiwis), the "concerned" (34 per cent), the "cautious" (12 per cent), the "doubtful" (21 per cent) and "dismissive" (nine per cent).
Even so, many experts suspect that we are, collectively, still very much the "frog in the pot" - unmoved by a catastrophe all too abstract to our everyday lives, even as it gradually worsens around us.
"It all still seems a bit theoretical to people," Victoria University climate scientist Professor James Renwick said, of the sense he's got from giving numerous public talks.
"As we get more events like the Pigeon Valley fire, but affecting urban areas and people's homes, it'll be a huge deal.
"But there's this view that this is what's happening in the future, and not now. I guess it can be hard for people to get a handle on these trends. I've heard somebody compare it to trying to listen to a single conversation in a noisy bar."
Storey nonetheless believed that dial might shift as people saw more events – and large wildfires, particularly - extreme enough to shock them.
"And if we are able to say that these would have been much less likely to have occurred without climate change, then I think people will care."