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Charlie Ratahi McFarland
LIFESTYLE & CULTURE WRITER
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From the Editor
[News] Techweek 2023 inspires at AUT
[News] Dairy Industry called out for ‘dirty’ practices in mock award ceremony
Disposable vapes - terrible for the environment and making your willy soft
Saving the turtles: It’s not just about plastic
In conversation with your student president: Sara Youssef
Insider: From The AUT Climate Change Researchers’ Group
Debate investigates AUT’s sustainability goals
'Climate Change Emergency Now' poster
Eight Great Films About Nature
Can We Reach a Solarpunk Future in Tāmaki Makaurau?
Another month, another scary storm in Tāmaki – this time, the sky was lit purple and the Sky Tower was struck by lightning. Then, there was torrential rain, a cold snap and hail across the isthmus. This is the third big weather event we’ve had this year, and it’s only May.
Research from Carbon Brief tells us that these extreme weather events are often made more likely or severe by human-induced climate change. Sadly, this will probably happen more and more – but that’s only what’s in front of us. Global warming and rising sea levels are terrible for biodiversity (one of our guest writers, Chris explains this to us on page…). Also, Pacific nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu are especially vulnerable to climate change - we have no time to lose.
Up until recently, we weren’t really experiencing extreme weather to the same extent as other parts of the world. Australia had the bushfires, then there were heatwaves and floods throughout South Asia and West Africa. And that’s not even scratching the surface. For many, climate change leads to widespread displacement, droughts and famine. It’s confronting to see this in the news - but we have to address these issues. And now that we are feeling the full force of climate change in Aotearoa, government inaction is that much more painful to see.
During the last election, Greenpeace analysed political parties in Aotearoa based on environmental policies - such as agriculture, oceans, transport, energy and plastic. The Greens, Te Pāti Māori and Labour consistently tick boxes across the board. Then, you’ve got your conservatives (and borderline deniers) National and Act - surprise, surprise: their policies are crap. If they had it their way, we’d still be drilling for oil.
National’s Maureen Pugh stated earlier this year that she needs to see ‘more evidence’ to believe in climate change, and the same for pharmaceutical drugs. Which begs the question – do National MPs not understand basic science, or do they just pretend like they don’t? Christopher Luxon was quick to wash his hands of Pugh’s statement – but do we really want these people making decisions for us? With this hopeless stance on climate change, and Luxon’s military-style bootcamps for teens, maybe it’s time AUT stops bringing the Nats to campus. I got a jump scare after work last month, when I left the WG elevator and was greeted by a gang of Nats and their blue banners, all ramped up for their regional conference.
Back to the floods. RNZ reported last month that over 4,000 state homes in Tāmaki are built on flood plains, with more in planning. It’s another bleak reminder of how vulnerable, lower socio-economic groups will be the first ones to feel the brunt of climate change. And without some real policy change, it’s going to keep happening. And Tāmaki is still recovering from the floods. I went to Piha last weekend and after seeing all the slips – the loss is heavy in the air. The Piha Road recently reopened, so if you’re heading out there, make sure to support local businesses however you can.
All my editorials circle back to this – vote! In the last election, we voted Chloe in. So there’s no reason why we can’t do the same this year – and get more Māori, wāhine and tauiwi into parliament.
Stay green and we’ll see you all next sem!
Techweek 2023 inspires at AUTBy Vanessa Elley (she/her) News Writer
AUT’s city campus was a hub for Techweek events last week, encouraging people to get involved in New Zealand’s tech industry.
The university was one of the festival’s strategic partners, presenting a variety of tech-related events from bridge building to talks about AI research.
CEO of Techweek’s host NZTech, Graeme Muller, says it’s critical to get students interested in the tech sector.
“There’s a global shortage of talent in the fastest growing part of most countries’ economies, so there’s a lot of work all around the world trying to encourage people to think about different sorts of tech opportunities and career paths.
“If New Zealand can do slightly better than other countries, if we can get better at creating entry level jobs and encouraging more kids to study at school and then take on university quals in the space and etcetera, we’ll get that advantage.”
Muller says that with AUT hosting Techweek events, students can connect with industry leaders and academics in the field.
“It's great having AUT helping us host Techweek. It’s right across the country but it creates a really nice hub in Auckland.
“Shout out to the students. It doesn't matter what you think you want to be when you grow up, it'll be really useful if you understand tech and you've got a couple of those arrows in your quiver so that you can do your job even better.”
AUT’s Senior Faculty Communications Manager Nicola Igusa, who works on Techweek supporting AUT’s academics, says the festival brings Aotearoa’s tech sector together.
“It’s an opportunity for everyone – from novices to experts – to get involved in a broad interpretation of technology.
“AUT students benefit through the events – largely free – hosted on campus, and through the collaboration between the university’s academics and industry partners.”
Igusa agrees that it’s more important than ever before for people to get involved with tech.
“Technology once considered the realm of science fiction is becoming a reality, and touching all careers, not just those traditionally thought of as ‘tech’,” she says.
“Being immersed in the thinking of the tech space, and the possibilities of technology, is absolutely crucial for all of us.”
Dairy Industry called out for ‘dirty’ practices in mock award ceremonyBy Nic George (he/him) Chief Reporter
Anti-dairy activists gathered outside the National Dairy Awards to host the “Dirty Dairy Awards” on May 15th.
The protest kickstarts the End Big Dairy campaign seeking to end “industrial farming which causes untold harm to animals, soils, waterways, wild ecosystems, communities, workers and the planet.”
According to Aotearoa's Climate Change Commission He Pou a Rangi, agriculture accounts for 91% of biogenic methane emissions and 94% of nitrous oxide emissions within Aotearoa New Zealand. This represents approximately 50% of the country’s gross emissions.
The event was hosted by Rise Up for Climate Justice, Climate Justice Taranaki, Auckland Feminist Action, Animal Save NZ, and Aotearoa Liberation League.
Spokesperson for Auckland Feminist Action Eliana Darroch spoke to the interconnectedness of the different advocacy groups within the anti-dairy movement.
“We are a rope and all of the different aspects of why the dairy industry should rapidly transition are all the strands of that rope.
“All of those aspects of why dairy should end are all interwoven into that rope, and it's just so lovely to see different aspects of the movement.”
Protesters stood near the entrance of the Great Room at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland CBD, holding signs and making noise to disrupt guests arriving at the National Dairy Awards ceremony being held inside.
Darroch says the turnout was promising and there was a positive energy coming from the crowd.
“It was really nice to be able to just turn that despair at the misery of animals and the destruction of our environment and putting it back at the industry and saying ‘This is what you've done, and you can't just hide behind some glitz and glam.’”
Speakers stood on a platform presenting their own “Dirty Dairy Awards”, mocking the ceremony inside the hotel.
Ceremony attendees passed by laughing and taking pictures of the protest, while guests arriving through the front entrance quietly ducked through the crowd.
Darroch says she saw the response from the farmers and was disappointed by their lack of concern.
“I saw a few laughing and that was kind of disheartening. We are genuinely bringing up issues that affect them too.
“Like nitrates in the water causing blue baby syndrome, and there's a high correlation between colon cancer and nitrates.”
She says the government needs to halt its investment in dairy farming if it is serious about climate change.
“The government should stop subsidising the dairy industry, and that includes making it exempt from the emissions trading scheme.”
There was a heavy police presence at the event as they formed a line between the protestors and the entrance to the event.
Disposable vapes - terrible for the environment and making your willy softBy Anonymous
Let's be real, vaping is the shit. It's convenient, tastes good and it's a lot less harmful than smoking cigarettes. But here’s the thing we, the chronic vapers, 'only when I'm drinking' vapers and 'what nic is that?' vapers, don't realise - it's killing the environment.
As someone who has worked briefly in the vaping industry, I can tell you the higher-ups definitely don't give a fuck about you, let alone the planet. They openly admit how immoral it is, but justify it the same way: "At least it's good money." As someone who is empathetic and cares about the environment, that's pretty disgusting to hear.
Disposable vapes contain valuable materials like lithium batteries and copper, which are essential to the production of many electrical goods around the world. The problem is, lithium is already facing a global shortage. It's used in the majority of rechargeable technologies, including batteries for electric vehicles. Here's the kicker: over 1.3 million disposable vapes are thrown away in the UK every single week. That's a shitload of wasted lithium. Around 10 tonnes of lithium is lost each year when people toss their disposable vapes away – enough to power roughly 1,200 electric vehicles. Just imagine - 2,200 tonnes less CO2 in the atmosphere if we just stopped throwing away our vapes like they're nothing.
But it's not just the lithium. Globally, around 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 is released in the production of disposable vapes. That's equivalent to 0.3% of the Amazon Rainforest's annual capacity for absorbing carbon emissions. Needless to say, we're not doing the planet any favours by buying half a billion vapes annually in the UK alone. That's a stupid amount of lithium not being used in greener technologies.
Let's be honest - if you're addicted, you’re going to keep vaping. But if you can't kick the habit altogether, at least go for the greener, rechargeable option. It might not be as convenient, but it's a small price to pay for the health of our planet. And if you're the kind of person that doesn't dispose of vapes properly, I would say go fuck yourself - except new research indicates that vaping makes your willy soft, so good luck with that. But seriously, if we all switched to a better alternative, or disposed of our vapes properly, these changes, as small as they seem, will have a huge impact on our environment.
Saving the turtles: It’s not just about plasticBy Chris Murphy (he/they) CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Back in 2016, you’ll probably remember a new movement starting: The banning of plastic straws and other single-use plastics. One of the biggest slogans of this movement was “save the turtles,” usually by buying a tote bag, Hydro Flask or reusable straw. But how much can reducing plastic waste really help save sea turtles? Conservation issues are always more complex than how they’re presented to the public. I don’t think this is a bad thing; the finer details of ecology aren’t that interesting to everyone. As an environmental science student I love these topics – but I’m painfully aware of how much scientific jargon and statistics can turn people off. Microplastic pollution in the ocean is a major issue, and I’m glad that sea turtles have been a driver for reducing the amount of plastics we use day to day, but it’s also obvious to me that this narrative doesn’t benefit the climate, the public or the turtles. Because it isn’t just plastics that are harming sea turtles, it’s the climate crisis itself.
Conservationists basically want there to be as much opportunity for turtles to fuck and make babies as possible.
Turtle embryos go through a process that biologists call, ‘temperature dependent sex determination’. This means the turtle’s sex (after it has hatched) is determined by the temperature of the environment the egg is in. At higher temperatures (usually above 30°C) more females hatch, at lower temperatures (usually under 29°C) more males hatch. In one key nesting ground north of the Great Barrier Reef, according to research published in PubMed in 2018, the juvenile sea turtles are over 99% female. At another nesting ground in the Florida Keys no male babies have been found since 2018, according to Bette Zirklebech, manager of the Turtle Hospital in Marathon City.
Why is this a problem? Because fundamentally, wildlife conservation is a breeding contest. Conservationists basically want there to be as much opportunity for turtles to fuck and make babies as possible. With noIllustration by Ella Windner (she/her)
more males being born there’s going to be fewer and fewer opportunities for turtles to make babies. Though I’m not discounting the chances of cute lesbian turtle couples, turtles will still go extinct if they can’t even find a sperm donor.
Sea turtles can live for over 70 years, and the female doesn’t reach sexual maturity until the ages of 25 to 30, so that means we probably are not going to see the devastating effects of climate change on turtle populations for several decades. This makes it a slow moving problem that is much easier to ignore.
Sea turtle conservation is a complicated issue, so is climate change. But people don’t need to understand every aspect of a problem to care about it. Sometimes these things need to be simplified to get people interested, but often it just makes people feel guilty. It’s yet another example of us being told that we’re the ones killing the environment. For example: it’s your fault for using a plastic straw, not the company that made them in the first place. Or: it’s your trash that is hurting these turtles, not the billions of tons of CO² that corporations pump into the atmosphere every year. I think there’s a reason the narrative was “your plastic waste is hurting turtles” and not “climate change means that these animals could go extinct.”
Sea turtles can live for over 70 years, and the female doesn’t reach sexual maturity until the ages of 25 to 30, so that means we probably are not going to see the devastating effects of climate change on turtle populations for several decades. This makes it a slow moving problem that is much easier to ignore.
There are some ways that scientists and conservationists are trying to help the situation. Shading sea turtle nests with temporary covers has been shown to help more males be born, but it isn't a practical long-term solution. There are over 1,300 nesting beaches in the world, many of them in remote and hard-to-reach areas. As the climate crisis worsens, options for helping turtles will only become more expensive and impractical. Really, there are no easy solutions to this issue. The only thing that will “save the turtles” is immediate and radical action to reduce carbon emissions globally and avoid the worst consequences of climate change. It’s something to think about the next time a paper straw disintegrates into your morning iced coffee.
In conversation with your student president: Sara Youssef
Debate’s graphic designer, Charlie Ratahi, sat down with AUTSA President Sara Youssef to discuss the hardships students face today, overcoming fear of judgment and honoring Te Tiriti.
It’s clear you have so much passion for equity and student welfare - what motivates you to represent students at AUT?
First of all, what a privilege. And what a compliment. To say that it's obvious means a lot to me. Everything I do in my role fills my cup. I care a lot about the students. And there's nothing better than a student coming up to you, and knowing your face and saying, ‘Sara, I need your help’. It means so much to me. And it genuinely feels so purposeful. Every day is so different. And I'm learning so much, I'm learning about governance, I'm learning about leadership and being a team member. I'm learning how to listen and how to be a better person. And just learning about how the world works, really. I think this is why I'm so passionate about what I do. If I'm not like that, then who else would be, you know? I want them to trust the Student Association. I want people to come to us because we can genuinely do something. Especially because I feel like AUTSA is not that visible within the student body. It's really important that when a student comes, you need to make sure that there's a positive outcome for them. And so it's a reputational thing as well. Like if a student had an issue and then like, oh, to help me or Sara helped me, they will come back to us if that makes sense. And yeah, when they tell you, thank you, whoa, that's what makes me want to do more things. I really love this place. I love being here. I love walking around. I love talking to people. Yeah, it's just, it's just my happy place.
You wrote an open letter for Debate last year about the government neglecting students’ wellbeing. How has the student political landscape changed in that time?
I think a lot of students especially after the cyclone and post-Covid, there is a lot of mental health talk. We've got a new vice chancellor, which means priorities are going to change. His number one priority is Te Tiriti and things like that. And so that's a big change, which I believe we didn't have before.
What issues do you think will be prioritsed in this year's student presidential election?
I think student wellbeing will always be a major topic - advocating for students and advocating for their needs. Also, I think it's really important to acknowledge that my needs are different than yours. My needs are different from a Pākehā person or a Māori person or Pasifika person. If you have another Egyptian, my needs are different from theirs. It's important to recognise that our student body is so diverse, and should be a case by case scenario.
This is why it's so difficult when somebody tells me ‘Oh, well you represent over 29,000 students.’ That's actually really hard. You will never ever be able to represent that many people. But being open to understanding, being open to learn new things, and being open to listen. It’s so important to listen, because you could think that it's not really a need that students need, but if that one person needs it, then you need to help them. And so it's really hard to say, but definitely advocating and the wellbeing of students is a major topic, especially with the cost of the cost of living crisis. Rent is so fucking high. Fucking high, for no reason. Like, do you think these are the challenges that our students are facing? Some students don't even show up to class because they have to work and support their families. So, how do we cater for these students? Or how do we cater for students who have a disability? That's why I wanted to say ‘cater for different needs’, because international students, students with disabilities or domestic students or Pasifika, M ā ori, it's just different needs, and everybody's got different needs.
That's why I'm hoping that the next person understands that everybody has different needs. Don't ever go into a conversation with a decision in mind. Because you need to listen first and be very open to receiving feedback.
What are some of the difficulties students in Aotearoa face today?
It’s definitely the cost of living. But also the cost of university and the cost of transport. The cost of family if you need to take care of family, or your medical bills and your international travels, if you're an international student. Maybe you have a surgery coming up… all these things play a major factor. And it impacts your academic performance as well. So, if you need to take care of all these things, are you really going to show up to class? This is the last thing that I would want to do if I needed to make money to survive. And I think students find it quite difficult to ask for help because nobody wants to ask for help. Let's be honest, why would I want the other person to know that I'm struggling? But it's that misconception of ‘are they really going to help?’ That needs to be broken as well. Mental health again is a big, big deal. Wellbeing and whether that's social wellbeing, financial wellbeing, mental wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, physical wellbeing - it's all of these things at once.
What’s it like to be an Egyptian woman in this role?
In Egyptian culture, we're very generous and collective. So bringing that into my presidency is quite important. Because you are representing people, which is a collective. Another thing is kai. So for us, you don't eat alone. You just don't. You bring people together to eat. Food is more than nutrition for us. When I have food, I love to bring people with me, sit down and have a chat. I think this is some of my culture coming through. And it's almost like you're expected to help others. I want to say it's in my blood. I bring my identity into work and I'm not afraid to do that.
What's your proudest achievement during your time as president?
Putting on the hijab was a really big deal to me. And I wanna be 100% honest, I always wanted to wear the hijab. One of the reasons why I didn't want to put it on was, I was worried the people I'm working with, at AUT or AUTSA, think differently about me. Or if I'm bringing up a student issue - would they take it seriously? And I shouldn't have felt that way, because that's crazy. That's you compromising your values and beliefs for other people, and you should never do that. And so I was thinking like, shit, if I put it on, would I still be a good president? It took me months of putting it on and off at uni. And then I was like, ‘You know what, I'm just gonna put it on and see how it goes.’ I think that's one of my proudest achievements.
I'm also proud of my team and how far they've come. The biggest thing that I'm proud of, though, is starting our Te Tiriti journey. It is so exciting. There's a lot of uncertainty, and that's the beauty in it. It needs to start and it needs to start now. And so now we're having conversations with the Māori student association, and the national Māori student association, to make sure that we're co-designing those processes alongside Māori. That will take time and it is a hard journey because there's so many foundational things that you need to break, but it is a journey that we definitely need to be on. We need to ensure that the end goal is to work alongside each other. We can't make those decisions on our own. But I don't want to say I'm proud yet, because I feel like there's so much to do in that space. But I'm proud that it’s started. My advice is that everybody needs to fucking read New Zealand history. Aotearoa history.
How can students have their say?
There are so many channels that students can go through. It could be as simple as messaging me on Instagram. Walk up to me like say hi! I want you to say what you need, because then I can do my job. You can also get in touch with AUTSA, advocacy or Debate. The most important thing is knowing who your representative is. If you're an international student, international officer. For instance, if you've got academic problems, or issues and stuff like that, know who your reps are, you can find out on autsa.org.nz. You can just walk up to us or just rock up to the office. Give us a call if you don't want to come in.
Insider: From The AUT Climate Change Researchers’ Group
The AUT Climate Change Researchers’ Group (CCRG) connects PhD, masters and honours students researching climate change-related topics from across Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau. They meet monthly, and last year ran an event for Auckland Climate Festival 2022. They share with Debate insights into the philosophy of “no buy” as a movement against fast fashion, as well as how your new favourite tool is harming both your chances of graduating and the environment.
ChatGPT: Heating up your grades, and the planetBy Dominic White and Nina Ives
Have you ever considered using ChatGPT to help you with your studies? Have you been held back by the anticipated guilt from cheating? Well, there are now two more reasons to do your assignments yourself.
The rise of AI has been all over the news lately - and by now, we're all familiar with ChatGPT. However, for all its potential impacts on jobs and education, another issue has slipped through the cracks - its environmental impact through emissions and high water use.
All computer programs require power to process requests and store data, and AI chatbots are no exception. This power tends to be provided by coal-fired power plants and other emissions-intensive electricity sources. An article by Kasper Ludvigsen in Towards Data Science used the ML (Machine Learning) CO2 Impact tool to estimate that the carbon footprint from
a single user of ChatGPT is 23.04 kg CO2e per day. This is the same carbon footprint as consuming around 9,216 litres of gasoline or else the emissions produced by the average gasoline-powered car for about 100 kilometres. A separate analysis completed by Chris Pointon for Medium projected that the total daily emissions from the chatbot is between 3.82 and 24.86 tonnes of CO2e per day. This is equivalent to the carbon footprint of 605 Americans. Given ChatGPT's broad applicability and its rising number of users, it is reasonable to expect that other chatbots and AI programs will enter the market and add to this carbon footprint.
CO2e, or 'carbon dioxide equivalent' is the unit used to measure the global warming potential of greenhouse gases, by comparing them to carbon dioxide. Note that when you see 'carbon' used to measure emissions, it emcompasses a wide range of greenhouse gases.
While the production of carbon emissions is concerning, it has also been found that AI chatbots require a considerable amount of water to feed the cooling infrastructure attached to their servers. A report by the University of Colorado Riverside and the University of Texas Arlington found that ChatGPT consumes
approximately 500ml of water for every conversation containing 20-50 questions. This is especially concerning given the increasing number of droughts around the world and the additional carbon emissions produced from water treatment and pumping.
We asked ChatGPT about its carbon footprint is and it responded rather cryptically:
"ChatGPT itself does not have a direct carbon footprint, the energy use associated with powering its servers and data centres would contribute to their carbon footprint, which would depend on a variety of factors."
While the program may be cagey on its direct carbon footprint, there is a growing amount of research that suggests that AI efficiency gains come at an environmental cost.
To buy or not to buyBy Mitali Nautiyal
Our infatuation with fast fashion means we accumulate so much more, contributing to over-pollution and the wasteful use of natural resources. This is why it’s time to embrace the “no buy” movement. In fact, the internet has recently been flooded with accounts of people who have vowed not to purchase anything brand-new. And it’s time we jumped on board with them. The concept is straightforward: you resolve to use the things you already own rather than buy new things. Some people make pledges for a year, while others only for a few days or weeks; others choose "low buy" choices with stringent spending limits.
Do we really need all these garments? This is exactly what I question in my PhD. The fashion sector is responsible for 10% of the world's carbon emissions and is producing excessive amounts of textile waste. Fast fashion has surged the demand for petrochemical and synthetic materials that are cheap but highly polluting and toxic to the environment. For the stability of our environment, complete abandonment of the fast fashion business model (along with a fall in overproduction and overconsumption) and a corresponding decrease in material intake is essential. As a consumer of fashion, the cheapest way to downsize your carbon footprint is by consuming less.
The solution of countering fast fashion by embracing the “no buy” movement has a strong philosophical foundation. Being content and reducing our consumption will not only assist the environment but also make us feel in control of our lives and appreciate the possessions we have. We frequently get caught up in the madness of needing more, which can result in overconsumption. Shopping with mindfulness, such as making a shopping list, will prevent impulse purchases. Consider buying second-hand items, which will lessen our carbon footprint, and support organisations that are working to improve the world. You can even try your hand at mending and repairing. The addition of decorative hand stitching will breathe new life into your clothing and offer you a sense of artistic fulfilment.
Real meaningful change takes time but must begin somewhere. By pledging “no buy” and embracing the concept of contentment, we have a positive impact both on the environment and our own wellbeing. Of course, there are always two sides to every story. This opinion piece is to encourage consumer waste reduction; however, garment manufacturers should also bear their responsibility.
If you’re keen to join the AUT Climate Change Researchers’ Group, please get in touch with Nina Ives (email@example.com) to share a bit about yourself and your interest in the group.
Debate investigates AUT’s sustainability goalsBy Vivien Whyte (she/her) ASSOCIATE EDITOR
It’s 2023. Long gone are the days when simply having a sustainability plan earns you brownie points and a pat on the back. The world is standing on the edge of a precipice. Te taiao needs us to be vigilant now, and that means that everyone has to do their part. Not only that, but we need ambitious action across the board.
Debate Magazine takes a critical look at our own university’s sustainability plans and declarations of a better world. We also did a cheeky stalk of other major universities in Aotearoa to see how we line up.
A quick internet stalk will take you to AUT’s Roadmap to 2025 - a plan which sets both external and internal targets for achieving AUT’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Our plans for Net Zero AUT and for creating “great graduates for a sustainable world” are pretty much in line with what everyone else is doing. One thing this plan does better than others is list examples of what each of our goals means. No wishy-washy goals without proper targets and actions to accompany them. As a tertiary institution, there is a heavy emphasis on the need for pioneering research and making sure there are more opportunities for students to have the green skills needed to achieve Aotearoa and the world’s sustainability goals.
Each year, AUT releases a report to update us on their progress along the ‘Roadmap to 2025’ and what measures they’re taking in order to achieve their goals. Between the 2021 and 2022 Reports, there seemed to be an obvious - and very welcome - change in how AUT framed sustainability. No doubt heralded by our new Vice Chancellor. Our Sustainability Roadmap - which was released in 2018 - has one glaring red flag, and only in the 2021 Sustainability Report do we see this rectified.
I’m talking about an understanding of our place in the world and the need to give effect to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. If we are to see sustainability realised in Aotearoa, it must be with an understanding that tangata whenua have been working with the environment for generations and have the knowledge and relationships with the environment to ensure it’s thriving for generations to come. Not only that, but Indigenous and marginalised communities already bear the brunt of the negative consequences of climate change. So it is no wonder
that climate change solutions, when solely birthed out of Western notions of sustainability and capitalist structures, only fail Indigenous and marginalised communities. Yet, in the whole 13-page roadmap, there is only a singular line that even hints at any understanding of this: “work with Māori towards bicultural understandings and responses to the issues of sustainability for Aotearoa New Zealand.’
Moreover, environmental justice scholarship - of which we are now in the fourth wave - has been arguing for decades that sustainability is holistic. Being sustainable goes hand in hand with being equitable, community well-being and hauora. So solely relying on emissions reductions or producing research and graduates that see sustainability as black and white doesn’t create the ambitious action and the impact needed in the context of Aotearoa.
The 2021 Report makes it clear that sustainability from a te ao Māori perspective pervades all targets in the report, and that this is a priority. Our goals also expand to include holistic well-being to signal regenerative goals and reflect te ao Māori. This triumph of a holistic, living systems perspective over the UN’s Sustainability Goals as a basis for our sustainability goals is a most welcome and needed change.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a 2022 Report available to see how this change has been enacted. It’s also a shame because, although the 2020 and 2021 reports boast good progress towards our internal net zero and water-management goals, it’s hard not to be critical considering being net zero was probably a lot easier during COVID-19 when no one was actually on campus. It’ll be interesting to see how we do back in normal teaching conditions.
Like any corporation or institution, the line between greenwashing and actual meaningful change comes down to action. We won’t be able to tell until later whether anything has actually made a meaningful contribution. However, I am hopeful, and you should be too! But we should also be vigilant. In this world, ultimately demand creates change. If more students are asking about sustainable practices in their fields and what that means in Aotearoa, more money gets thrown at creating courses, collaborations and heightened opportunities towards sustainable development.
– Live Music by Lee Gray Music Duo – Variety of food & drink options
THURS 22 JUNE, 5 – 8PM
Parnell Quarter, 69 St Georges Bay Rd
The above event will proceed if there is light rain as there is undercover seating. However if the event is cancelled due to severe weather, the rain date is the 29th June, 5–8pm. parnell.net.nz/food-truck-nite-23 for more info
Eight Great Films About NatureBy Thomas Giblin (he/him) CULTURE & LIFESTYLE WRITER
Cinema has always been fascinated with the power and mythology of the wilderness. Prototypical tales of the conflict between people and nature have always been narrative devices, from Victor Sjöströms 1928 film The Wind to the 2012 cult classic Piranha 3DD. In staging stories against the dramatics of the wilderness, the natural world becomes a metaphor for humanity. The melancholy transcendence of natural beauty evokes humanity's fervent obsession to conquer all that's before us and the non-conformism of going where no one has gone before. But nature is still an untamed beast that fights back against the human world – it's violent and indifferent.
Born out of the New German Cinema, Werner Herzog is a singular storyteller whose depictions of nature are torn between spiritualism and existentialism. He revels in its beauty and hostility, with the epic Fitzcarraldo being a testament to Herzog's desire to challenge nature itself.
The film's production was a bloodbath, as Herzog sought to recreate Carlos Fitzcarrald's feat of transporting a steamboat over an isthmus that connects two rubber trade routes in Peru. In transporting a 320-ton steamship over a hill, trouble blossomed; death, dissent and dysentery were commonplace. Famously, a chief from the Machiguenga tribe offered to kill Herzog's muse Klaus Kinski, as his erratic behaviour saw him clash with the cast and crew. Despite the film's troubled production, Fitzcarraldo is an extraordinary vision where nature violently morphs into an allegorical landscape of obsession and ambition.
Weathering with You (2019)
Makoto Shinkai, labelled "The New Miyazaki", a comparison he rebuffs, became an international phenomenon with Your Name, the third highest-grossing anime film of all time. Shinkai's luscious and vibrant photorealistic style has made his films an event on the filmic calendar and the subject of 'aesthetic' TikTok edits.
Weathering with You, inspired by the impact of climate change on Japan, features the story of Hodaka Morishima and Hina Amano – the latter has the power to control the weather. The film has sparked fierce debate, with some critics arguing that it's pro-global warming, downplaying the effect of climate change for the film's narrative. What isn't the subject of contention is Shinkai's worldbuilding – never has Tokyo's sky and scenery looked so magical. Each frame is startlingly beautiful, allowing any viewer for just under two hours to escape into a heartfelt dreamland that shimmers and thrills.
When thinking of acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho's filmography, Okja is often forgotten and ignored in favour of Parasite, Memories of Murder or The Host. Despite its giant Netflix-backed $80 million budget (his largest to date) and a stacked cast including Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal and Steven Yeun, Okja hasn't had the cultural impact expected from the Korean auteur. It's not my favourite Bong Joonho film, but I can recognise its brilliance as a thought-provoking sci-fi that's sweet, funny, scary and sad.
The film, a life-affirming green parable of Mija and her superpig, is ambitious, sometimes tonally uneven, but it disguises itself as another fantasy creature Disney film. You're gearing up to watch a cute film about a pig but are confronted with the horrors of corporate greed, 'ethical' consumption and animal cruelty. Parallels are drawn with Spielberg's E.T. However, Bong Joon-ho's films are a genre in themselves, with Okja being a must-watch for any animal lover.
The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961)
Six years after the release of The Day the Earth Caught Fire, Val Guest co-directed Casino Royale, a James Bond parody film that's best left banished to history. The 60s were an era of kitsch, but don't let The Day the Earth Caught Fire's campy title fool you. The looming existential threat of the Cold War permeates the cultural psyche. America and Russia, through reckless atomic testing, have altered the Earth's axis, and disaster ensues: a sweltering heatwave.
The film, an early example of sci-fi cinema tackling ecological concerns, presents the collapse of society in stark black-and-white, resisting pulpy genre urges. Grounded through the washed-up journalist Peter Stenning and the newsroom of the Daily Express, The Day the Earth Caught Fire feels startlingly contemporary. Its shrewd use of special effects means the film has aged kindly; its depiction of London as a withering wasteland is horrifyingly visceral.
Koyaanisqatsi (try pronouncing this) is a non-narrative documentary that has no conventional plot. Instead, we're shown slow-motion and time-lapse footage of natural landscapes, elemental forces and modern civilisation. Edited together as a grand symphony of life, with one of the most epic and original soundtracks ever, the film is a sensual feast, best experienced on the biggest screen possible or high with friends.
One of, if not the greatest animated films ever made, WALL·E, a story of a sentient robot left to clean up a waste-covered Earth, is Pixar's finest hour. From Andrew Stanton, WALL·E is a stunning swan song of love that still moves and dazzles me as it did upon my first viewing as a spiky-haired 8-year-old.
It's a marvel of visual storytelling when two silent lumps of metal can make you cry, but the film's depiction of Earth's destruction at the hands of a corporate monolith is hypocritical. Disney, whose parks are a symbol of unsustainability, uphold a system of corporate greed where the earth is exploited for profit. Is this the film's genius – to disguise pro-environmental and anti-consumerist messaging in a film about two robots falling in love?
First Reformed (2017)
Filmmaker Paul Schrader has always been preoccupied with masculinity - from his collaborations with Martin Scorsese to his contemporary works. Taxi Driver (a film he wrote) is considered one of the greatest films of all time, but his newer works such as The Canyons and Dying of the Light have disappointed. First Reformed, however, is a return to form – a revelatory tale of Pastor Ernst Toller, a tortured man undergoing a spiritual crisis.
Toller has a haunting encounter with a radical environmental activist and his pregnant wife, causing him to deteriorate as the world around him decays. The film, influenced by Schrader's adoration of Ozu, Bergman, Tarkovsky and Bresson, is an uncompromising vision that mortifies and transcends. First Reformed stares into the abyss of existential ecological terror, an epiphany of suffering.
Chernobyl, the world's worst nuclear disaster, has been dramatised in dozens of films, television shows and video games. But HBO's Chernobyl is the most harrowing. The event, a catalyst for the dissolution of the Soviet Union, is uncanny in its detailed recreation of Pripyat, the now abandoned city which housed the plant workers. Stark green fluorescent lighting, jarring wallpaper patterns and looming brutalist apartment towers capture the sickly atmosphere of dread.
Despite embellishing and inventing certain events and characters, namely Ulana Khomyuk, Chernobyl is a haunting nightmare. Its vision of the systemic breakdown of the truth terrifies – there is no comfort in death. An invisible threat is made visible - each fleck of dust radiates with the violence of a knife thrust. Bureaucrats are reprehensible, a product of a system which has dug its own grave. An event like Chernobyl was inevitable. Valery Legasov, the nuclear physicist tasked with leading the commission into the disaster, states that every "lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid." Whilst this line is a narrative invention, it's a chilling reminder of the cost of lies.
Pitches & submissions open for 2023! We’re looking for…
Contributing Writers, Illustrators, Designers, Photographers and Artists
Issue 7 | Te Ao Māori
Pitches due: Monday 12th June
Contributor deadline: Monday 26th June
Issue 8 | Communities
Pitches due: Monday 26th June
Contributor deadline: Monday 10th July
Issue 9 | Seasonal Depression
Pitches due: Monday 10th July
Contributor Deadline: Monday 24th July
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to become a contributor!
Can We Reach a Solarpunk Future in Tāmaki Makaurau?By Liam Hansen (they/he) FEATURE WRITER
Liam delves into the sunny, sustainable and sci-fi world of Solarpunk - they chat to researchers about how its ideas can be implemented in real life and sits down with Auckland Central MP Chlöe Swarbrick to figure out why the government won’t change anything.
Early in the morning, you wake up to the smell of homemade bread, the sound of chirping birds, the taste of cool fresh air, and the feeling of the sun washing over your face in a plant-filled bedroom. The natural flora outside of your window is radiant and beautiful, with the concrete streets below barely visible from the overbearing nature which has taken hold. Your kitchen contains fresh, unpackaged ingredients, your closet is full of quirky thrifted hand-made gems, and a Studio Ghibli score is playing in the background. You leave your home and step out directly onto a solar-powered streetcar, staring out the window at various crops, vineyards, farms and flower patches. You hop off the streetcar and enter the city, where trees line every street, package-free markets sit behind pedestrianised areas, and shoppers carry tote bags filled with fresh produce. You join them, energised and fulfilled with your life and environment. You do not live in Auckland. You live in a solarpunk fantasy novel. God, I wish that were me.
Solarpunk envisions a universe where we got our shit together and beat the climate crisis, phased out all the things contributing to the destruction of our environment and its inhabitants and replaced them with technology that sees the world clean, green, and absolutely fuckin’ mean.
The speculative fiction community has been creating stories of rebels in dystopias for decades. At this point, you can basically take any term popular in a sci-fi or fantasy novel, smack the ‘-punk’ suffix at the end of it, and boom: you’ve got a new cyberpunk derivative that suckers like me will spend the next three months hyper-fixating on. There’s steampunk, dieselpunk, dungeonpunk and mythpunk, atompunk, stonepunk, nanopunk and raypunk - the list never ends! But these subgenres are usually focused on creating hypothetical dystopias, worst-case scenarios or alternative histories where things went wrong or diverged. But it’s easy to get bogged down with the excessively pessimistic views these pieces of fiction provide - especially when the 21st century is seeing the real world hurtling towards an actual cyberpunk dystopia (with less emphasis on the cool robot arms and
more on a post-capitalism hellscape). These worlds were originally created as a response to what could happen, but now with the ideas terrifyingly feasible, how do we approach the invention of new, fantastical worlds that could be seen as any worse than the one we’re already plummeting towards?
Enter solarpunk - a ray of hope for the future of humanity. First defined on the internet in 2008 (but having existed since long beforehand), it takes all the ideas seen in cyberpunk and its derivatives, from adapted forms of modern technology to new ways of presenting cities, and turns it on its head.
Solarpunk envisions a universe where we got our shit together and beat the climate crisis, phased out all the things contributing to the destruction of our environment and its inhabitants and replaced them with technology that sees the world clean, green, and absolutely fuckin’ mean. Think ecovillages centred around farming communities, and cities with dense housing, efficient public transport, and moss growing up the side of skyscrapers. Think community gardens, plant-based homegrown food, and streets where animals happily coexist with humans. Essentially, solarpunk is the good timeline - a source of escapism where we can imagine a world where we can disconnect from our shitty, carbon filled unsustainable reality and pretend that everything is okay.
But happiness and sunshine aren’t the only thing differentiating solarpunk from other punk subgenres. The stories built around these universes have continually made audiences stop, and think “Hey, why don’t we actually do these things? Why don’t we bring these incredible ideas of renewable energy and sustainability into reality?” Sure, many of the ideas in solarpunk are entirely fictional and pretty dang hard to bring into reality - but the concepts aren’t out of reach. For a matter of fact, they’re staring us right in the face. We could bring back old, pre-capitalist systems, like food markets and car-free streets. Solarpunk isn’t just a fantasy - it’s a possibility.Illustrations by Haydn Nixon (he/him)
Now, what started off as a late noughties online sci-fi community has developed into a fully-fledged social and environmental movement. Solarpunk gives us an idea of what our future could look like. It romanticises it and fuels a subgroup of angry but hopeful young folks with tactics and methods to fight for a future worth living in. But, just as the solarpunk literary/art movement existed long before people labelled it as solarpunk, the social proposals of the movement have been around for years. Ivy Scurr, a digital ethnographer and PhD student at the University of Newcastle, noted how proto-manifestos to the movement outlined its goals before there was really a term to explain it. Ivy has been researching the online development of solarpunk, from its roots as a media genre to its rise as a social movement, and how it provides a framework of hope to approach the future with. “It's not just art, and it's not just fiction,” she told me. “It's people working in local government policy, architecture, design, DIY - it's people doing activism, engaging in workers rights, working across refugee issues, and everything else in between, so that we can bring everyone along to a future that we all can live in.”
Solarpunk can easily be seen as a purely environmental movement, and for good reason - fighting climate change is at the core of what solarpunks do. But climate change isn’t a solely environmental issue: The working class and povertystruck people across the world are already being hit hardest by the climate crisis. Solarpunk aims to fight every aspect of that - which Ivy reckons is reflected in its name. “Solar energy comes into solarpunk, not just because it's renewable and doesn't burn fossil fuels to make energy - though that's a big part of it. But also because they allow you to decentralise the energy grid. You can build things at the communal scale, and make interconnected networks of communities that are all equally maintaining and sharing the energy from solar farms as it's needed. It’s decentralising political power, economic power, and - ya know, literal, electrical power.”
Ivy described the bulk of her research as “hanging out in all of the online solar punk spaces I can find, and interviewing and interacting with and following solar punks around the globe.” These communities contain a wide variety of solarpunk-related things - pieces of art, short stories, literature, etc. But it also showcases the direct action solarpunks are taking and seeing in their community that work toward the future they strive for. These sides of the solarpunk community are incredibly interconnected. Even though the fiction side is often having fun with speculative fantasies, Ivy called what they were doing a form of "radical imagination” - an idea brought about by British academics Alex Khasnabish and Max Haiven. We can have these fantastical ideas as a goal whilst actively working towards that future to the best of our abilities. Through her online research, Ivy discovered that solarpunks look for practical action they can take that helps those in their community struggling more than they are.
When it comes to the ways that people can begin practically advocating for and practising solarpunk concepts, the methods and forms of action are practically endless. Generally, everything starts with a kōrero - getting the community together to discuss the ways they can and have implemented solarpunk into their daily lives. An example Ivy bought up was the Italian solarpunk collective Commando Jugendstil. “They've been getting little grants and going to the communities, asking 'What are the problems? What are your anxieties about the future? And what do you want your community to look like? How can we change political environments, energy systems, the economy, etc.' They then collate all of those and write like a little bit of a story about what that positive future town looks like, but then go ‘Alright, how can we work towards that? Are we going to start a community garden? Are we going to start a local renewable energy co-op?’” It’s also common for people to share the action they’ve taken via the internet - that’s where much of the movement for solarpunk began, after all. It’s fascinating, all the different ways people have brought solarpunk into their professions and hobbies - Ivy made an example of an ecologist using mushrooms to rehabilitate their local ecosystem. “They're working in forests at major bushfire risk due to the eucalyptus present. So they're finding all the dead growth, and then inoculating them with specific varieties of fire retardant mushroom spores. So the thing still breaks down and helps the local ecosystem, but it's less of a bushfire risk.”
While these DIY tactics to spread solarpunk ideas are awesome and necessary, a small group of people won’t single handedly be able to transform cities across the world into sustainable utopias. Ivy pointed out how many of the people she spoke to also spent time campaigning on local council issues to improve green spaces, public transport, cycleways, and more. Many are even campaigning for local boards themselves - maybe our future mayor will be inspired by scrolling through solarpunk art on Tumblr or Reddit!
What could it look like in Tamaki
When it comes to the actual changes we need to make in Tāmaki Makaurau, I spoke to Priscila Besen, an architect and lecturer at AUT's School of Future Environments, about the real, practical ways Auckland can become truly sustainable - not just environmentally, but socially and politically. The core of Priscila’s research is based around regenerative design - which aims for self-sufficient designs and practices that actively improve their local environment. “Everything
is about restoring natural ecosystems and trying to heal what was done in the past and really go beyond,” Priscila told me. “For example with rainwater, you could clean it on site and harvest it - that could avoid flooding and the spread of waste, but also create habitats for biodiversity. Things like green roofs that are covered in plants and flora can become a habitat for birds and insects.” Regenerative design often adds to existing buildings - which saves time, money and resources. This goes against a lot of solarpunk ideas, which starts from scratch - especially the more speculative examples. For example, glass skyscrapers and strangelyshaped buildings reminiscent of what we all thought the future would look like as kids (with some plants thrown in). It makes a lot more sense to retrofit the buildings we already have, make them safe and healthy to live in - while adding solar panels, green roofs and irrigation. As Priscila said, "When you think about the big picture, we don't want to just demolish things to build new because of all the waste.”
Te Kura Whare
One of the best examples of fantastic regenerative design that Priscila showed me was Te Kura Whare - a headquarter space built by and for the Ngāi Tūhoe iwi of Te Urewera, in the North Island's east coast. Te Kura Whare is an incredible display of kaitiakitanga, being the first building in the country to receive a Living Building Challenge certification referring to an internationally recognised set of strict practices and achievements a building can do to actively improve the surrounding environment. It ticks all the boxes - Te Kura Whare generates all of its own power, treats its own water, has a botanical waste water system, is designed with a ventilation stack that allows fresh air to enter the building overnight, had ninety percent of its construction waste diverted from landfill, and is elevated to protect against flooding and earthquakes - that’s not even the entire list! The mahi and results that came out of this building are a first for our country - and it isn’t really surprising that iwi are leading the way. Ivy pointed this out directly in our chat - “If you're wanting to improve your area's environment and make it more solarpunk, go and speak to the indigenous people. It’s their country, they've been living here for a lot longer than you have, in a very close relationship with the local ecosystem. Ask them what this place was like before it all got colonised and developed with built infrastructure. The ecosystems group like Māori had before colonisation worked, and they could definitely see you in a useful direction.”
Seeing more buildings in Tāmaki Makaurau altered to become regenerative would be an awesome step towards practically making us a solarpunk city - but the movement aims to see regenerative ideas implemented across all aspects of life. In solarpunk art and advocacy you’ll commonly see things like efficient public transport systems, high-density housing and pedestrianised streets. It’s no secret that having fewer cars on streets will lead to less pollution - but these people-centric ideas will also improve people's wellbeing, the city's economy and its housing crisis that leaves many without homes. People often push
back against these concepts on the grounds of “preserving Auckland’s character” - by which, they mean keeping up the damp and mouldy Victorian villas seen in central suburbs because they’re pretty to walk past. But we can create more housing density in Auckland Central without destroying the character - it’s already happening overseas. Take The Annex, a historic neighbourhood in Toronto full of mansions originally designed for the richest of the city. But many of these homes have since been subdivided into sole apartments. Imagine if we took large buildings that already exist in Auckland, split them up into different units, and improved them to become healthier and better for the environment. We would see exactly what we see in solarpunk art and fiction - people happily living in eco-friendly homes, situated in walkable areas near public transport.
“If you're wanting to improve your area's environment, and make it more solarpunk, go and speak to the indigenous people. It’s their country, they've been living here for a lot longer than you have, in a very close relationship with the local ecosystem. Ask them what this place was like, before it all got colonised and developed with built infrastructure. The ecosystems group like Māori had before colonisation worked, and they could definitely see you in a useful direction.”
Auckland Central Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick has been advocating for these ideas since her mayoral run back in 2016, and has continued onwards as she’s progressed into her current role. She reiterated the same ideas Ivy and Priscila spoke about, such as regenerative design and kaitiakitanga: “We’re kidding ourselves thinking we can offset our way out of the extraction and destructive practices that humanity has undertaken. In terms of solarpunk and the trends that we're seeing internationally with urbanism and ecosystems, we have a really fascinating context in Aotearoa through engagement with mana whenua to learn what it looks like to live in harmony with the ecosystem, and therefore, to understand the history of the land.”
“If we daylight those streams, then we also have a city centre that is far more resilient to the likes of the extreme weather events that are climate change that we saw on the Auckland anniversary flood weekend.''
An example of this difference between the sustainable and regenerative approaches can be seen in the pedestrianisation of Queen Street - one of the topics Swarbrick has been most vocal about. She pointed out how we could go even further by restoring Waihorotiu Stream - a river that used to run through Queen Street before colonisation. Not only would the lack of cars and increased biodiversity be incredible, and not only would we be restoring an important part of mana whenua that was in the city centre, but we’d also be better off in terms of safety. “If we daylight those streams, then we also have a city centre that is far more resilient to the likes of the extreme weather events that are climate change that we saw on the Auckland anniversary flood weekend.” Swarbrick also highlighted the long-term wellbeing and economic impacts that reinstating Waihorotiu Stream could have, and spoiler alert: they’re good. “We have reams and reams of international economic research on this, which shows that when you move towards creating spaces that are more people friendly, then people aren't just passing through them. They will meaningfully meander, explore, be curious, and enjoy being in those spaces. Queen Street should not be a thoroughfare - it should be a destination unto itself.”
It’s not the only time we’ve seen regenerative ideas avoided - take Auckland’s Light Rail plans, which were confirmed last year to be built partially underground. Bringing more efficient public transport to Tāmaki Makaurau is core to improving the lives of Aucklanders in almost every way, especially when millions of dollars are involved, so it’s important to approach it in the most efficient way possible. For the Greens, that looks like above-ground light rail, but the government instead went for the tunnelled Metro - which Swarbrick says “is far more expensive, far less accessible, with far more embodied carbon and far more time wasted.” She spoke on the small businesses along Albert Street who have been impacted by the necessary disruption as a result of the underground development of the City Rail Link and reckons it’s clear evidence that the underground metro isn’t any less disruptive than above ground transit.
Where to from here?
It’s frustrating how easy a solarpunk Auckland could be. We could pedestrianise roads, add regenerative aspects to pre-existing buildings, and create more greenery in the central city. It’d be so easy to take cues from cities overseas to implement regenerative ideas of environmentalism, urbanism and socialism that would combine into a solarpunk oasis. Examples include how George Street in Sydney was pedestrianised, how population density in Toronto’s The Annex was increased, how Amsterdam became the cycling capital in the world, and the different approaches to artificial air-purifying trees seen in Serbia and Singapore. However, Aotearoa refuses to change, no matter how many benefits are obviously visible. Swarbrick only has so much power to advocate for these ideas - she represents Auckland in parliament, but the Auckland Council has the power to loosen restrictions and make our city more livable. Unfortunately, they don’t do that. There are councillors advocating for things that would lead to a solarpunk Auckland, but they’re often outnumbered by those who Swarbrick claims profit from the status quo and paint every threat to it as a threat to “our way of life”. This is a wider cultural issue in New Zealand, which is especially prevalent among those who vote in local elections (i.e., old rich white dudes). The local election voter turnout was pretty abysmal last year, and I hope that changes in 2026. Regional politics are the first step to structural change in our cities, and taking part in decision making is crucial to gaining any semblance of perseverance through the climate crisis.
Diving headfirst into solarpunk has ripped my brain to shreds, made me feel every emotion conceivable, and led to me lecturing my poor flatmate about how fucking stupidly easy the solutions to improving our city are. It feels like every sensible decision is avoided, and a better future is slipping further away by the minute. But fatalism defeats the purpose of solarpunk - as Swarbrick says, “The only thing that's ever changed the world is community building, and I don't mean to say that as an esoteric answer - there are very tangible things that we can do to achieve that.” Swarbrick raised several examples taking place right now in Tāmaki Makaurau, from the ‘For The Love Of Bees’ urban community garden in Eden Terrace, to the groups actively fighting against the cuts to Auckland's climate budget through direct guides on how to make a submission - which led to the biggest amount of feedback the council had ever received to an annual budget proposal. As Ivy, the solarpunk researcher we spoke to earlier pointed out, “There's a whole lot of areas where you can ask, ‘What's the thing I'm interested in, what's a problem in my local area, and what can I do to help fix it?’”
Diving headfirst into solarpunk has ripped my brain to shreds, made me feel every emotion conceivable, and lead to me lecturing my poor flatmate about how fucking stupidly easy the solutions to improving our city are.
If you want to become a solarpunk and join this movement in changing our world for the better, this is where you start. Take a look at yourself and ask what you can do to help make change. You can look critically at your own habits and see how they can be improved - and channel that māhi into making the world a better place. The solarpunk utopia is fantastical, but it isn’t impossible. Everyone I spoke to agreed that it was so important to hold this glimmer of optimism close and use it to form communities that are engineered to force our society to change. I mean, the fact that I was able to talk to Chlöe Swarbrick about this weird and incredible sci-fi social movement clearly goes to show that solarpunk is making a difference, and she agrees that there’s no way in hell we’ll be stopping any time soon. “We're starting to see the proliferation of totally different attitudes, which are very disruptive to the status quo,” Swarbrick said. “That's where I think we’re truly seeing the seeds of hope.”
GIG & LAUNCH
Launch: Speck Comics, Club Ruby and Pink Plates
Friday, May 26th
An epic triple launch from Tāmaki bands Club Ruby and Pink Plates, with Speck Comics. Get ready for a night of thrashin' dancin' and wholesome vibes as they celebrate the triple launch release of new music and a new issue from Speck.
STRIKE Climate Strike
Friday, 26th May Free!
School Strikes and Fridays for Future are gearing up for their second climate strike of 2023! The protest will make its way from Victoria Park to right outside the Auckland Council Building in a bid to urge our leaders (and our climate-denying Mayor) to take a more equitable approach to the budget deficit at hand and put people and planet first! NO CUTS!
The Other Crate Record Fair
All Press Gallery
Saturday, 27th May
Book out your Saturday morning with The Other Crate, curated by local DJs, collectors, and diggers to help improve your odds in your quest to unearth dusty nuggets and funky delights. All on a background of local crate diggers spinning fine tunes throughout the day.
FESTIVAL Africa Day 2023
Saturday, 27th May
Africa Day aims to unite Africans in Tāmaki Makaurau, showcasing their diversity and celebrating their cultures with the broader community. This year's line-up features a packed schedule of talented artists and cultural performances that will make you want to get up and dance. Immerse yourself in all things Africa, dance, markets and some of Tāmaki Makaurau's tastiest food trucks.
MAY + JUNE 2023
G G i u d g i e
TĀMAKI MAKAURAU - AKL
Community Garden presents: Ehua - w/ Ajhoneysuckle and Hasji
Where? Whammy Bar
When? Friday, May 26th Cost? $45
95bFM | Fancy New Band - Ballot Box, Blush.mp3, Chase Woods
Where? Whammy Bar + Backroom When? Saturday, May 27th Cost? Koha!
Where? Hollywood Avondale
When? Saturday, May 27th Cost? $45
TV Dinners | Swallow The Rat
Where? Ponsonby Social Club
When? Saturday, May 27th Cost? $15
King Brothers | All Ages! with Cindy + Short Chain
Where? Big Fan
When? Sunday, May 28th
Cost? $27 Student
Where? The Powerstation
When? Saturday, June 3rd Cost? $60