09 March 2023

Greenshirts for Aotearoa

Imagine relaxing, going about your day and finding two people arriving on your doorstep, one with a clipboard, both wearing green shirts, labelled the Environmental Protection Authority or perhaps the Ranginui Papatuaunuku Whakamarumaru Ti'amâraa (perhaps?).

They ask you about your employment, and perhaps you are self-employed, or unemployed, or retired, in which case they will ask why you have not presented yourself at the local Whare O Te Aorangi to be given task to save the planet. Your age is unimportant they say, you could be making cups of tea for the younger volunteers, you could be helping manage the archives. What is your excuse for not helping the people and the community?

You wont have been ignorant of it, because the New Aotearoa News Agency (NANA) will have been saying for months about the exciting new initiative that means ALL citizens and permanent residents get to help save the planet and save us all, all species from the desecration of over two centuries of colonialism, capitalism and selfish individualism.

The two people invite you to pack up a few belongings and come with them, for you are to be assigned duties in Takaka for 6 months. You’ll be so welcomed, and you’ll be helping to save the planet, the land and te tangata from the climate emergency.

You object, but they smile and say there is no need to get the Police involved, and they understand if you’ve forgotten or been confused, but they’ll be back tomorrow. It gives you time to remind your loved ones that you are going to go work in the countryside, to help rebuild what was destroyed by past generations.

In the meantime your read on the NANA website that community spirit will be raised through the creation of a network of groups of neighbourhood associations. Every street will have at least one, some will have several, high density housing estates will have one of their own. Every week, citizens will meet to discuss what they are doing for society and the environment, to plan new initiatives and to bring up issues of each others’ behaviour that harms the environment, and encourage each of us to do better. It will be a voluntary arrangement, at first, but everyone’s attendance will be noted.

You seem to remember you’ve heard of this sort of thing before

(Inspired by former Dunedin City Councillor and RMA Commissioner, Fliss Butcher's proposal in Newsroom)

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