Spring has sprung!
My mind always follows to the next line in that children's poem of "the grass has riz, I wonder where the birdie is".
It definitely seems like a fresh new season for me, and not just thanks to the warmer weather, longer days and sunny evenings. I feel hope in the air.
In recent weeks I've had the pleasure of hosting two screenings of the film 2040, with plans to look at a wider schools viewing next year. If you get a chance to watch it, don't hesitate.
It's an uplifting documentary on how we could have a more sustainable, connected planet in the year 2040, based on amplifying existing initiatives. It is a wonderful counterweight to our regular, somewhat depressing fare of apocalyptic projections.
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Thrive Whanganui's work with The Generator programme continues to help people with their own enterprises – a little injection of support at the right time seems to make all the difference to help someone unlock a big step forward.
With 50 per cent new councillors around the Horizons table, it is a whole new experience.
I had my first meeting this week as environment committee chair and while I stumbled with the formalities, it was refreshing to have an increased level of engagement and informed curiosity happening – plus no-one nodding off.
However, my most substantial reason for this feeling of hope is that we have, as of this week, an official Zero Carbon Act in New Zealand. Given the years and column inches I've dedicated to writing about climate change, it's a real milestone. We now have a framework we can work with – and seek to improve in time.
Is it perfect? No. Has it suffered under the political reality of compromise? Yes. Is it still worth celebrating? Hell yes.
Many people have got behind the need for urgent action on climate change and this piece of legislation is a vital component in the multi-faceted solution we need.
Thank you to the diversity of groups who have helped this happen, particularly the voices of youth, most recently through the school strike for climate and, over many years of consistent campaigning, GenZero.
I also thank business and industry leaders who have acclaimed this, Māori leaders and advocacy groups who have fought for this change, and all the individuals who've spoken out, joined a climate march or written a submission.
And I want to acknowledge one standout individual – Minister for Climate Change and Green Party co-leader James Shaw. I'm not sure we'd be here now without his efforts.
No resting on our laurels just yet, though. We still face significant challenges – the act's existence only moves the dial a small way.
We don't need to look far to see the reality of climate change hitting hard and fast on our planet and people. Our cousins across the ditch are facing an incredibly intense and early wild fire season.
The images out of NSW are horrific, yet some of the Australian politicians are still only sending "thoughts and prayers".
In New Zealand, we still have our problems too. I've been surprised by the backlash and dinosaur thinking in response to Greenpeace CEO Russel Norman's decision to give his speaking slot at an Environmental Protection Authority event to a high school student.
Apparently the young woman Sorcha Carr gave an empassioned pitch for a consent application for offshore oil and gas to have a public process, which ruffled a few feathers.
I back Sorcha.
We know we can't afford to burn the oil reserves we already have. And of course we should have public input to issues that have an impact on our future.
I'm thankful for this staunchness I see in our young leaders. For a reminder of the need to hold your ground, the benefits of some political compromise and staunchness in action, listen to Matangireia, a podcast series featuring interviews with former Māori MPs.
I've listened to Dame Tariana Turia, former Conservation Minister Sandra Lee and former Greens co-leader Metiria Turei so far. They are awesome.
Finally, a little local hope. I'm pleased to see an announcement about a single lane, temporary road on its way for the Parapara – that is good news for our region.
Nicola Patrick is a councillor at Horizons Regional Council and leads a new social enterprise hub, Thrive Whanganui. A mum of two boys, she has a science degree and is a Green Party member.