Tai Tokerau Climate Change Conference

From 8.-9. June 2018 Whangarei was hosting this government’s first Climate change conference at Northtec. The following Trello Board  can be used for further collaboration.


NZ’s new Climate Change Minister James Shaw gave a great overview on the planned Zero Carbon Act and fielded twenty questions from a well informed, passionate audience.

NZ current emission profile looks like the following


The Q&A responses by the Minister included:

  • Reasons for long-term view – 2050, seems a long time out
  • precision farming vs traditional and organic farming
  • government policy on EV for Ministers & other public servants (guidelines: EV first, if that isn’t suitable hybrid, then buy a used vehicle from the previous government). according to Minister Shaw, the NZ Government is already the biggest Hyundai Ioniq customer in NZ
  • change management to get as wide buy-in by Kiwis as possible
  • forestry ownership and pay outs
  • keeping soil healthy
  • tree planting is not the only off-set solution
  • pest control and replanting native bush
  • Auckland urban sprawl and congestion (by 2030 50% of Kiwis will live in Auckland)
  • social justice and building a more egalitarian society (lower GINI index)

The afternoon in the Northtec Marae was spent with engaging discussion on how each of us can make a difference to combat global warming and anthropogenic impacts.

Source: Draw Down Project (Hawken, 2017)

Day One Topics

  • Vulnerable populations – challenges and solutions. Dr Rhys Jones (University of Auckland, Ora Taiao)
  • Iwi views on CC response – Rangimarie Price, (Amokura Iwi Consortium)
  • Regenerative farming – Bev Trowbridge
  • Project Drawdown Aotearoa – Simon Millar of Pure Advantage and
  • Rebecca Mills

Bev’s talk included interesting cause and effect analysis summarised  resulting in the viscous cycle outlined below:

causes: high stock rates, high nutrient content in soil, chemical fertilizer input, bad soil practices, over intensive water use

resulting in: soil and water contamination, disrupting the natural water cycle and leading to salination.

effects: bio diversity loss, land degradation & land loss, food degradation . This is a threat to productivity and results in doing more of what actually caused the problem in the first place.

Bev suggested regenerative farming methods as one possible solution


Source: Edmund Hillary Foundation blog (2018)


Day One – Zero Carbon Act Consultation

After Day One of the conference, the Climate Change Minister invited Whangarillians/ Northlanders to the first of thirty nationwide Zero Carbon Act Consultations at  Toll Stadium.

After a summary of the options presented the 200+ strong audience asked excellent questions and were encouraged to register your submission or further questions on ourclimateyoursay.nz



Source:  Zero Carbon Act brochure – from today to 2050

Day Two – Action oriented workshops

After another touching Powhiri the over 150 active conference participants split into the following groups. Here are key findings from Day Two per group. Detailed summaries will be available on the Tai Tokerau Climate Change Conference website.

Maori Response to Climate Change

  • Tai Tokerau should lead the way to a new society & new way of thinking , and show that Northlanders can learn from history
  • managed retreat of vulnerable communities could be a green field rebuild opportunity
    • better, sustainable housing
    • smart, IT enabled Marae’s
    • community gardens
    • food sovereignty
    • new Kai fusion development
    • locally produced food, consumed locally
    • own and control food value chain
    • Marae becomes centre of learning and well-being
  • new pathology – the new ‘normal’ should mean that all people/Maori are valued, healthy, educated
  • issues: fragmentation of funding resources

Plant based diets

  • telling a story that matters and is linked to Climate Change
  • how can we generate economies of scale for growers & sellers
  • keep people engaged and connected
  • learn from global best practice
  • need for clear community leadership

Food Waste Avoidance

Background Facts: over 30% of food produced goes to waste, produces 8% of GHG. This would make it the third biggest polluter if it would be a country, after China & USA.

  • We need informed decision making
  • composting & worm farms
  • seed systems
  • incentives to have house/ community gardens
  • food/ garden education


Energy & Transport

EV’s are coming and here to stay.

Challenges: Far North District has big power grid but only few customers. Several options available for Top Energy, the community owned utility: help to build micro-grids & decentralised power generation, manage these services for customers and become a services rather than just lines company.  Local Storage is another opportunity which could assist to reduce energy cost if excess energy is stored and locally consumed. This could be battery storage like the Tesla Powerwall, recycled EV batteries, small scale hydro, hydrogen.

Northland generates 25MW on geothermal power at NgaWha at present and will have 54 MW by 2021. The daily base load needs 75MW. Transpower is delivering that through two access points to the Far North. Top Energy is generating 400GWh. NorthPower about 1,000GWh.


With the two consented Wind Farms Northland could not only supply all its demand locally but could look at exporting energy. Marine Energy in the Kaipara Harbour could assist to cover base load for Tai Tokerau and potentially export to Auckland at a profit which benefits Northland.

The Whangarei Vision Zero by 2025 can potentially contribute to decarbonize transport in Northland and sensitize people to opportunities with new technologies like autonomous fossil fuel free transport or mobility-as-a-service.

Tree Planting

  • new trees could be planted
    • in riparian margins or on class 7 land
    • conservation areas: enhancing existing or developing new
  • cash crops like bananas could be used to clean water ways and generate income for the farmer
  • develop community garden with fruit tree
  • diversification: what, where, why
  • predator eradication important for pest free tree growth
  • what new, non pine radiata timber: natives like Manuka (good for bees and high value Manuka honey health products), Kaikatia, Totara
  • education for Matariki/ kids and staff
  • companies like GBS Winstone are providing funds/ resources for tree planting as part of their CSR activites. NorthTec plans to organise Tree Planting Day to off-set travel carbon impact (contact chairman of NorthTec’s Sustainability Committee Guy ghessell@northtec.ac.nz for more details)
  • no rates on vulnerable/ at risk or marginal land
  • issuing green bonds
  • REED
  • provide Tai Tokerau Forestry Leadership

Regenerative (REGEN) Farming

  • success metrics: financials, environmental, social, spirtual (like balanced scorecard)
  • barriers to change
    • ignorance
    • lack of confidence
    • too little or lite education
    • lack of supply
    • THAT principle – totally honest all the time
    • high compliance costs: certification, RMA, OSH acts – will Zero Carbon Act add to already high compliance cost
  • better REGEN farmer support
    • change the story from the farmer is the problem, to the farmer is part of the solution
    • reward REGEN farmers
    • develop local/ regional REGEN role models
    • joined branding
    • market access
    • local processing facilities like slaughter house, commercial kitchen, … localised Food Bowl
  • action plan
    • move REGEN farming from fringe to mainstream
    • develop a ground up approach
    • leverage global/ local best practice
    • REGEN Field Day for ‘normal’ farmers
    • make resources available online

The general feeling was that there was huge collective wisdom willing to contribute to the solution. It is now important to turn all this from nice words into tangible action. This only works if we all get cracking and just do it.

Please keep moving and sharing. Let’s aim to use Trello as our initial collaboration tool.


If I mis-stated or forgot something, please contact me. Thank you for contributing to this hugely important dialogue.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s