There's a new generation gaining traction for their passionate commitment to climate change.

And three months after the global student protests, local primary and secondary school students took part in a climate change workshop organised by Rotorua Lakes Council.

Areta Pakinga of John Paul College, who was an organiser of the original climate change protest in Rotorua, was at the workshop.

"Every student who came to the protest followed in [the council building] after us," she said. "We packed out the whole council and that's the first time that's happened since the signing of the tribes."


"We got welcomed by mayor Steve Chadwick and she talked to us about how important we are, our voice is, and she asked us our perspective. And that's when we had various students stand up and talk about problems that they found in Rotorua, not just concerning climate change but also various things such as our lakes and the development of youth here as well as our schools."

A Climate Change Action Plan is now in the making for the region, led by both students and councillors.

"There's been a bit of progress," district councillor Tania Tapsell said.

"And it was excellent because the young people gave us a lot of things to think about. One of those was getting them more involved in our decision making."

"We're looking at what are the carbon emissions within our communities, what are areas that we know are going to struggle with climate change in the future in terms of weather events? And how would they like to have us invest in infrastructure and strategies that could help manage climate change in the future?"

Another focus of the workshop was to help young people better understand what climate change really was.

"There's a lot of evidence, science-based evidence, behind climate change," Tapsell said.

"For us, it's all about communicating that in a way that they can understand and also taking their messages and inputting it into our language as well.


"The Climate Change Action Plan that we're working on through these workshops is going to be for the whole community."

And as the saying goes, knowledge is power.

"If we know about it, why it's important, then we're hoping that the youth are going to have more of a voice on these kinds of situations," Pakinga said.

"We want them to understand that even though they are 'small people' we still have a big impact."

And with the council on board, the schools are now warming up to climate change initiatives.

"Some of the schools didn't like it because it was controversial to them, but with this, because it's supported by the council, they are backing it all the way."

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