Aggressive yelling and car revving was not enough to stop Rotorua students marching through the streets for climate change.

Being kaitiaki, the trusted guardians of the earth, was the theme of Rotorua's youth demanding climate action for the Strike 4 Climate.

The public reaction to the colour signs and loud chants was mixed: some stopped and stared, took videos, tooted in support or yelled out aggressively.

"Shut the **** up," a man yelled at the group.

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"Tiakina Papatūānuku" - save Mother Earth - was one of the hundreds of signs carried through the CBD.

More than 500 students gathered at the Village Green and joined thousands of youth at more than 40 scheduled events around the country for the third national School Strike 4 Climate NZ.

They marched from the Village Green, past the council chambers, Te Manawa, and Government Gardens to Sulphur Point where they will plant two kowhai trees.

Rotorua students gathered at the Village Green and were armed with colourful signs. Photo / Cira Olivier
Rotorua students gathered at the Village Green and were armed with colourful signs. Photo / Cira Olivier

Before the march, students spoke about the power, the Pacific Islands, rising sea levels and ocean temperatures, changing perspectives and being kaitiaki (guardians) of the earth.

Rotorua Boys' High School's Jamah Rulamd-Umata, 18, was dressed to showcase his Pasifika culture and opened with a prayer in Mandarin for Chinese Language Week.

Jamah spoke of climate change through a Pasifika perspective and said he saw families needing to leave their homes because of rising waters.

He had recently been invited to speak to a group of scientists about a young, Pacific perspective on climate change at a Scion conference in Christchurch.

Council candidate Kaya Sparke spoke to the masses and said the Government had not been doing a lot of "doing" in terms of saving the environment.

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She said there was a lot of pressure on people to make the changes themselves but it should be looked at at a progressive level as well.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick and the youngest candidate, Fisher Wang, also marched for change.

Rotorua Girls' High School deputy head girl Geraldine Atchico said people had empathy, power and knowledge and these were all tools they could use to make a difference.

About 500 students were loud and proud as they marched for the national Strike 4 Climate. Photo / Stephen Parker
About 500 students were loud and proud as they marched for the national Strike 4 Climate. Photo / Stephen Parker

Western Heights High School's Naomi Iraia, 18, said she was there because the land held stories and was part of who she was.

"The land represents us," she said

John Paul College students Areta Pakinga and twins Kaitlyn Lamb and Jessica Lamb organised the strike.

Mac Pac Rotorua store owner Marcus Ackeus, 50, closed up shop and joined the strike. Photo / Cira Olivier
Mac Pac Rotorua store owner Marcus Ackeus, 50, closed up shop and joined the strike. Photo / Cira Olivier

The Lamb twins said people could make small, practical changes in their life, like using compost bins.

Youth were also joined by adults and Mac Pac Rotorua store owner Marcus Ackeus, 50, shut the store for the strike.

He said his generation had the pleasure of enjoying the walks, rivers and lakes which were now diminishing. He said the young people needed to be able to enjoy it as well.

Students gathered at the entrance of Central Mall on Amohau St and wrote what they wanted for the future on the concrete with chalk.

Organisers of Strike 4 Climate NZ in Rotorua Kaitlyn Lamb, (left) 16, Jessica Lamb, 16, and Areta Pakinga, 17. Photo / Stephen Parker
Organisers of Strike 4 Climate NZ in Rotorua Kaitlyn Lamb, (left) 16, Jessica Lamb, 16, and Areta Pakinga, 17. Photo / Stephen Parker

Areta, 17, said the strike was important to young people and their future.

Before the strike, Areta was nervous: not about how many people would join the strike or the weather, but for the reactions they could get.

"There are many people who believe we're too young or too naive and I know these people usually have the most to say and it's not always very positive."

People creating signs at the Rotorua Night Market last week for the Strike 4 Climate protest today. Photo / Supplied
People creating signs at the Rotorua Night Market last week for the Strike 4 Climate protest today. Photo / Supplied

She said using age to determine someone's ability to act for the environment was "simply not valid".

"Hopefully seeing a large group of teenagers passionate about climate action may scare them because as, Greta Thunberg has said, our house is on fire."

People creating signs at the Rotorua Night Market last week for the Strike 4 Climate protest today. Photo / Supplied
People creating signs at the Rotorua Night Market last week for the Strike 4 Climate protest today. Photo / Supplied

A protest sign-making stall was held at the Rotorua Night Market last Thursday for members of the public to join.