Blocked roads and angry drivers at climate change protest

By Jessica Tyson

Drivers were furious after being blocked by activists from the Extinction Rebellion movement protesting at an intersection in Mission Bay, Auckland, today.

It was one of seven protests happening around Aotearoa today, in a bid to raise awareness about climate collapse.

Vegan Chris Huriwai told Te Ao, “We're here today to raise awareness for the crisis that is climate change and we're willing to do what it takes until people start listening to us."

At the intersection in Mission Bay, up to 40 people walked out on the road at a time holding signs to voice their messages. In response, drivers beeped their horns and shouted in anger.

The role of Māori

Huriwai thinks Māori have a role to play in protecting the environment.

“What Māori need to be doing here is speaking up. That’s currently what we are doing, what we're trying to do, but it does need to happen more.”

Environmentalist Hirini Reedy of Ngāti Porou was also there. Last year he walked the length of Aotearoa to raise awareness about the state of the country’s waterways.

“I came to Mission Bay for coffee and to support this event. I’m all about protecting our seas, forests and, more importantly, the birds.”

Activists block the road in Mission Bay. Source: File

Environment Aotearoa report

Today's protests come after the Ministry for the Environment’s released their Environment Aotearoa report this week.

XR spokesperson Rowan Brooks says report underplays the global climate change crisis. The report details widespread biodiversity loss, the risk of further species extinction and the threat of climate breakdown. It shows that almost 4,000 of New Zealand native species are threatened or at risk of extinction.

"Scientists agree we are witnessing the sixth mass extinction. Without drastic action, we are heading towards an unrecognisable planet and widespread misery."

Huriwai says, “The leadership we have here in this country is not telling people the real issues. They’re not telling people about how bad it really is.”

Environment Aotearoa report. Source: File

Huriwai says climate change is going to be the most serious issues "of our lifetimes”.

“It’s going to raise the level of the ocean. So where we are currently, potentially, in 20 years’ time we could all be underwater.”

He says big changes need to be made, especially within the agricultural sector.

“More greenhouse gas emissions are coming from agriculture than any other sector in New Zealand and the primary sector is the dairy industry, so we need to see a drastic change there.”

Despite the negative response from drivers today Huriwai hopes attitudes will change for the future.

Activists block vehicles from driving through the main intersection in Mission Bay. Source: File