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New National Taskforce announced to address the impacts of climate change on Maori and Maori Communi

“The prospect of climate change is not something that is twenty years away it is here right now and we must do more to both act and prepare” says the New Zealand Maori Council.

The Council has today launched a new National Taskforce focused on the challenges of Climate Change and the Environment responding to community needs and demands for action:

“The reality is our waterways are sick, our land is increasingly falling into failure and climate change is starting to have an increase impact on our people and communities. We all know the stories, the reports and research around the cleanliness of our waterways but little is understand about the impact of climate change on our coastal communities. For example; Maori inhabit many small coastal communities and our connections to land remain through our Marae and Urupa. With increasing king tides and rising sea levels we are seeing encroachment on the land and disturbances of where our people lay.” Council’s National Taskforce Chair, Roimata Minhinnick says.

“We also need to have plans in place to protect our sacred sites that are at risk. At the same time we need workable solutions and plans in place to bring our water ways back to a state that is not just acceptable but livable. Lets not forget the many native species that rely and subsist in our freshwater environments.” Minhinnick said

“These plans need to be in place when it comes to at risk catchments such as:

  • there is a clear decline in water quality in a catchment or downstream receiving waterbody;

  • where the water resource is under pressure from existing or anticipated future land use change, leading to a likely decline in water quality; or

  • where the waterbody is vulnerable to irreversible detrimental change, and urgent action is needed

“The key to this is bringing our combined knowledge and experience to the table and seek to work in partnership with other Maori organisations, interest groups, business and industry as well as the Crown and Government Agencies. Our single biggest focus should be to identify the problem and go about building solutions.” Minhinnick said

New Zealand Maori Council has said that all Maori consider themselves as guardians over the land and water ways and therefore not only have a unique attachment but a historic, present and future responsibility for its protection.

The taskforce will be Chaired by Roimata Minhinnick who has a long history in the issue area. Minhinnick is also a member of the New Zealand Maori Council’s National Executive. Other members will be announced shortly.

Other issues the Taskforce will be charged with:

  • Finding ways and means to prepare Maori coastal communities for increasing frequencies of king tides and sea level rises / working on the sensitive issue of Urapa and Marae water encroachment

  • Looking at sustainable solutions for better freshwater and freshwater ecology management

  • Development of a stronger Maori workforce when it comes to environment and climate change

  • A dedicated education campaign

Key information about climate change and the environment in respect of New Zealand:

  1. An analysis of long term records from four New Zealand tide gauges indicates an average rate of increase in sea level of 1.6 mm a year for the 100 years to 2000, which is considered to be relatively consistent with other regional and global sea level rise calculations when corrected for glacial-isostatic effects. One global average rate of sea-level rise is 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per year for the 20th century (Church and White (2006). Another global average rate of sea-level rise is 1.8 mm/yr ± 0.1 for the period 1880–1980.

  2. A 2008 study of cores from salt-marshes near Pounawea indicated that the rate of sea level rise in the 20th century, 2.8 ± 0.5 mm per year, had been greater than rate of change in earlier centuries (0.3 ± 0.3 mm per year from AD 1500 to AD 1900) and that the 20th century sea level rise was consistent with instrumental measurements recorded since 1924.

  3. According to estimates from the International Energy Association, New Zealand's per capita carbon dioxide emissions roughly doubled from 1970 to 2000 and then exceeded the per capita carbon dioxide emissions of either the United Kingdom or the European Union. Per capita carbon dioxide emissions are in the highest quartile of global emissions

  4. The 2007 State of the Environment Report noted that in 2005 New Zealand's per capita emissions of the six greenhouse gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol were 18.5 tonnes CO2equivalents per head of population and were the 12th highest in the world,[23] and the 5th highest out of the 27 OECD countries

  5. New Zealand has a relatively unique emissions profile. In 2014, agriculture contributed 49% of total emissions, energy (including transport); 40%, industry; 6%, waste; 5%. In other Kyoto Protocol Annex 1 countries, agriculture typically contributes about 11% of total emissions.

  6. The combined effects of climate change will result in a multitude of irreversible impacts on New Zealand. Some projections predict that by the end of this century New Zealand will experience higher rainfalls, more frequent extreme weather events, rising sea levels and higher temperatures. Such effects will significantly impact New Zealand, with higher temperatures resulting in dry summers, consequently limiting New Zealand's water supply and intensifying droughts. This will result in a myriad of effects, with droughts and lack of water affecting not only the environment, but the economy too, as New Zealand's agricultural export sector strongly relies on an environment conducive to growing crops and livestock.

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