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Art + Climate = Action

Author: Nicola Caldwell, Intern

In conjunction with current exhibition This Time of Useful Consciousness, The Dowse has hosted a series of public talks to extend the conversation on climate change. We have been lucky enough to have had a fantastic turn out to all our events so far, with participants offering thought provoking questions, insights and experiences.

Beginning with a presentation from climate scientist and Victoria University of Wellington lecturer Dr Ralph Chapman, our first event introduced the science of climate change in an interesting and accessible talk. Describing the history of the world’s climate fluctuations and the clear evidence of rapid and unprecedented change acceleration, Chapman addressed the urgency of global climate action.

Dr Ralph Chapman discusses This Time of Useful Consciousness: Political Ecology Now.

Dr Ralph Chapman discusses This Time of Useful Consciousness: Political Ecology Now.

Chapman urged us all to become informed about climate change and expressed the view that writing to your local politician is a simple and useful individual action that everyone can take. Letting those in power know that we want to see firm action to address climate change and that we will hold them accountable in doing so, Chapman described, is one of the most effective ways to drive systemic change.

Conversation: This Time of Useful Conciousness

Conversation: This Time of Useful Conciousness

Our Pacific neighbours are already seeing the effects of climate change with lea level rise, the salinization (increasing salt content) of soil and more frequent instances of extreme weather events. This was the topic of our next event ‘Climate Change and the Pacific’ on Saturday 13th May. We were joined by Victoria University of Wellington Development Studies PhD student Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau and co-founder of climate action group 350 Aotearoa, Aaron Packard. They shared their experiences of climate change in the Pacific region with stories of grassroots action and advocacy.

Aaron described his involvement in organising a blockade of the Port on Newcastle, Australia to protest fossil fuels with Pacific activists The Pacific Climate Warriors. View a video of this inspiring story here.

Wellington Development Studies PhD student Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau

Wellington Development Studies PhD student Faka’iloatonga Taumoefolau

For our most recent event, ‘Addressing climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities’ on Saturday 20th May; we were joined by powerhouse researcher, writer and artist Dr. Huhana Smith and her fantastic colleague, landscape architect Martin Bryant. They described the research process and outcomes of collective, Kei Uta, who are included in the exhibition. Taking a Vision Mātauranga and cross-disciplinary approach to addressing climate change, they brought iwi and hapū together with scientists and students from Massey University School of Creative Arts and Victoria University of Wellington’s landscape architecture programme. Through participatory action research centred on wānanga, hui and hikoi, new knowledge was co-produced with communities, extending their capability to identify, respond and adapt to climate change impacts.

You can find out more about this ongoing research here.

Addressing climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities

Addressing climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities

Huhana and Martin offered an encouraging view of what could be achieved through cross-disciplinary collaboration and they hope the model of research and communication developed by Kei Uta could act as an example for national and international climate change response. Principles of respect for nature alongside culture, multi-vocal knowledge systems and intergenerational stewardship make theirs a powerful model for climate change adaptation.

Addressing climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities

Addressing climate change impacts on coastal Māori communities

We hope that you will join us for our upcoming talk on the 8th July – ‘Grassroots to Policy Makers: Questions on Climate Change and Political Action’ to hear what local government and advocacy groups are doing in Lower Hutt and the wider Wellington region.

Come and add your voice to the conversation!

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