The young people we spoke with love Aotearoa New Zealand’s natural environment, and they’re worried we’re not doing enough to protect it or our planet


When asked the question, “What do you like most about New Zealand?” 41% of survey respondents (438 people) wrote answers that can be grouped under the heading, ‘Clean, green nature’. For context, the next closest answer was ‘Friends, whānau, connections, community’ as chosen by 21% of respondents (220 people).

Some of the young people spoke about how wellbeing and the health of our natural world are intrinsically linked.

“Spiritual wellbeing for me is time in nature and care for Papatūānuku.” - Workshop participant

“I think that looking after our country and keeping it "green" is one of my greatest desires. I feel that the environment is a key part to my wellbeing.” - Paris, 13, Female

Many spoke to their desire to see more action on climate change, conservation, liveable cities, better public transport and an end to plastic pollution.

“I would like to see stronger environmental protection. Many kiwis don't know how special New Zealand is. Lets keep it pure.” - Mila, 22, Female, Takaka

“More and more people are moving to the cities and they need to be designed with people in mind. We need spaces for people to gather and socialise, we need strong communities and happy spaces. We also need to care for our environment more. Stop city sprawl and instead go up. Stop plastic pollution and clean up our waterways and natural bush.” - Kate, 24, Female, Grafton

“I want to see more action on environmental issues, especially marine pollution, overfishing and climate change.” - Imogen, 18, Female, Remuera

106 of the survey participants also wrote comments about the stress and anxiety they experience due to lack of action on climate change and other environmental issues.

“With climate change, I'm worried about our survival.” - Anon, 23, Male, Nelson

“I get increased anxiety and problems with mental health carrying what feels like the weight of having to solve the world’s problems.” - Anon, 24, Female, Carterton