While 16-year-olds do not have a say on election day, an Oamaru group which is passionate about the environment is determined to get its voice heard in other ways.
Schools Strike 4 Climate Waitaki (SS4C) is planning a series of Friday events in the lead-up to the September 19 election to get its message across, group representative Tilly King said.
The group has 11 members from the three local high schools, and is part of a worldwide movement of teenagers motivated by the environmental issues facing the planet.
The group “really kicked off” during the Covid-19 lockdown and Tilly and fellow representative Ethan Reille meet every Sunday via Zoom with SS4C members from all over New Zealand.
“We want to really put pressure on climate action at this year’s election. So that will be on some Fridays in the 10 weeks leading up to the election,” Tilly said.
Ethan said they wanted to remind voters the environment was something that needed to be considered.
And it was about getting youth involved, Tilly said.
“Even though we can’t vote, our opinions and our views still matter. This is the way for us to let the voters know what we feel strongly about.
“Striking on the street, it’s a way of us sharing our passion and what we care about.”
Both teens, aged 16, “definitely” thought they should be able to vote.
“But that’s a whole other story,” Tilly said.
The pair were adamant they were not leaders of the group.
“There are no leaders of the group. We’re the representatives. That’s kind of a really big thing with Schools Strike, it’s .. creating an equal platform. Not really having a hierarchy,” Tilly said.
Ethan said at the Zoom meetings they received information about anything being worked on at a national level, took it back to the regional team and collaborated on those ideas.
“In this day and age, social media is able to contribute a lot of voices and it’s really powerful to be able fight against an issue.
“Just knowing that we are all high school students doing this because we can identify that there are flaws within our community and we are willing to address them and make change.
“Starting up those conversations I think is really important and getting the youth involved. I think it was kind of lacking here in Oamaru. There wasn’t much youth involvement in things.”