Thank heavens for our rangatahi

16 Jun 2012

Te Radar, with a grin and joke, asked the group of young environmentalists what made them angry. Mining in Southland, shark finning, cows polluting our freshwater, the list goes on.

The six young people, with all sorts of environmental interests, made up the “Nature Of Tomorrow” discussion panel on Friday evening at Forest & Bird’s annual conference. Award-winning satirist and documentary-maker Te Radar led the diverse discussion that covered the issues of now and concerns for the future.

The difference between generations was a recurrent theme. Gen Y is the first generation that will not have a better standard of living than the previous generation. they said. And yet, many young people are complacent about the environment and activating change.

This group is not complacent. They’re out there killing possums, attending water quality conferences and raising awareness about shark finning. Their battles may be the same being fought by their elders, but they don’t approach them in the same way.

How do you get young people involved in conservation? “Free beer,” joked Jackson Wood, a politically minded panellist, before suggesting communicating in a way young people understand. “Don’t write me a letter, I won’t read it. I move house every year because of rent. Email me, Facebook me, send me a Youtube clip,” he said.

The young people affirmed technology is an opportunity that should be seized; if not through spreading messages and networking, then on a bigger scale. There was huge potential for New Zealand to launch into green technology, the young ones said.

Despite the anger, there was a lot of optimism on the panel. As Forest & Bird Conservation Manager Nicola Toki told the room: “It’s very heartening to know our future is in safe hands”.