Q&A with Xyryll Gayagoy, year 12 student, St Mary’s College, Wellington, who took part in the School Strike 4 Climate Action on March 15.

Why did you get involved in the strike?

The reason why I got involved in the strike was to make sure that our decision-makers of New Zealand will make a political action to stop climate change.

I am scared for our future, and the many generations’ future to come. When I heard that our neighbouring islands will
soon be taken away by the rising sea, I was in deep shock. That is their culture, their identity and their home. We are responsible for this.

We need to reduce the global temperature below 2 degrees celsius before any further catastrophic impact takes place. If temperatures continue to rise, we will lose many species; homes will be lost due to the rising ocean and extreme weather; people’s health and safety will be at risk, and the list just goes on.

If statistics or science does not move you, then your feelings should. Be compassionate that we have seen and heard
how many people have been affected already. That they can’t even go back home because it is non-existent. Be concerned that our sea animals are dying because of the plastic we throw in the ocean.

It is not good enough that we are recognising the issues of climate change, but not taking action. We can’t only have some making better environmental choices.

Thousands of people and I protested on the 15th of March to demand action and efforts from everyone. The Government
is in power, and they need to come into agreement with how they can approach this crisis.

Did you get a mark against you in terms of attendance?

The students from St Mary’s College in Wellington were marked “explained” if they went to the strike.

We have our school values of “Manaakitanga, Pūaroha, Āwhinatanga, Atawhai and Tika”, and, by supporting this strike, we are upholding them. God has given us this earth so freely and we must respect it. We are all responsible for the damage we have created.

If schools have their own values and principles then they should uphold them. Many staff members were supportive of this strike, but there is only so much that the school can do.

Attendance was not a big issue for me. I would much rather sacrifice one day of my education for our future education.

What do you think the strike achieved?

When I heard the many different reasons why young people are striking, I was able to understand their stories and how
this crisis deeply affected their lives.

This strike educated and moved those who have not given this climate change issue much attention. Bringing global awareness of this issue is just a step, we now need to take action.

Examples, such as the suffragette movement and the nuclear-free movement, have shown that fighting for a national change and demanding for political action do work in New Zealand.

It is amazing seeing young people getting involved in the democracy to fight for their future. Whether or not you agree with politics, these politicians are still the decision-makers of the country.

We can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we can have a better waste management system, we can place laws for the environment and we can be mindful of our decisions.

We are hoping that Aotearoa will do its greatest effort to make a better change now that our decision-makers have seen the demand from the young people. We can do this.

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