Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is encouraging members who are interested in climate action to register for and attend the inaugural hui of Tiakina Te Taiao.

Since a remit was passed at TEU’s Annual Conference (May 2021), a steering committee has been working to advance the intentions of this new object in TEU’s rules:

‘Advocate for transforming TEU and tertiary education institutions’ relationship with Papatūānuku and Ranginui, supporting climate justice, just transition and kaitiakitanga of our natural environment, in relationship with mana whenua and mana tangata’.

TEU Kaumātua Hōne Sadler, and helmsperson of the steering group, gifted the new network its name, Tiakina Te Taiao, which refers to the individual responsibility and collective actions needed in the duty of care for our natural and physical environment.

‘Collective action, bringing together the expertise and passion of members into a network was the obvious first step’, said network co-lead and Te Tumu Whakarae | National President Tina Smith.

The education system is described by the Climate Change Commission as “critical for setting workers up with the skills needed to deliver a thriving, low emissions Aotearoa” and “education and training providers will need to be nimble in order to set New Zealanders up with transferrable skills, and the ability to adapt, upskill and learn as the way we work evolves” (p. 342).

Across the tertiary sector TEU members are involved in research, teaching, and institution-based actions to improve sustainability and reduce the effects of climate change. This network aims to capture what is already being done, and through collaboration and networking enhance and grow this mahi at both the local and the national level. We hope to encourage others to become informed, involved, and to act.

Rachel Bolstad, TEU Council member and network co-lead, sees many opportunities for TEU members to grow and share knowledge and to engage in actions that will really make a difference: ‘Many TEU members already care deeply about climate and sustainability, and we have a lot of knowledge and expertise amongst our members. We can have an impact in our sector.’

Climate change is a union issue because the term “just transition”, now well-established in global climate literature, originated from the labour movement. Unions must be included in the design of the transition to a low-emissions future. One of eight key principles for a low-emissions transition strategy is “Transition in an equitable and inclusive way”. This means:

Aotearoa should take an approach to the transition that is in line with tikanga values. It must give effect to partnership with Iwi/Māori. Working inclusively also means working in collaboration with businesses, workers and unions, and different community groups…. (p.71)

Climate action is consistent with Te Koeke Tiriti and our four whāinga, and the launch of this network aligns with TEU’s own Te Tiriti rules review as well as with COP26.

The hui will take place over two zoom meetings on Tuesday 9 November, which you can attend at either 12pm or 4pm. To receive the meeting zoom details please register and they will be sent to you – for 12pm, click here. For 4pm, click here.