Forest & Bird Conference & Youth Hui by Kensie Gard

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to fly down to Wellington to attend a Forest & Bird conference, dinner and Youth Hui. These were spread over two days (Saturday and Sunday) with lots of action, fun and learning packed into both days. The first day was the Forest & Bird conference with people attending from all over New Zealand. Our country’s Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage was one of the speakers at the conference. She talked about how our government is tackling climate change and NZ’s biodiversity. There were two panels at the conference, one being a political panel whilst the other being a climate panel. The key question the political panel was based around was ‘How do we turn around the crisis facing nature and look after our regions?’. The climate panels key question was ‘What do we need from the Zero Carbon Act?’. I found these very interesting as you could hear different opinions from people surrounding these key questions. Other talks included two women speaking about the collapse of Biodiversity in the Te Urewera’s and how current Hapu are turning things around. I found it so awesome how there was a cultural connection within this and how they’re making a change to help the biodiversity in the ranges. One of the talks I found particularly interesting was Graeme Elliot from DOC talking about what the 2019 ‘megamast’ means for our vulnerable species. He talked about how our pest populations increase when there is a mast year and how we are eradicating them. Throughout this day I learnt so much new knowledge and also met so many awesome people!  

On the Saturday night was the Sanderson’s Memorial Dinner. I sat with all the other Forest & Bird Youth and we had an awesome time getting to know each other. We got served up so much yummy food and did I mention it was all vegetarian! How cool is that? The reduction of meat is a big step to help our climate crisis so it was nice to have vegetarian meals throughout the weekend. Jeanette Fitzsimons who is the former Green Party co-leader spoke about the climate challenge. It was an amazing speech and she spoke so strongly about what we are doing with climate change.

The second day was the Forest & Bird Youth Hui where all of the youth members came together. In total, there were about 17 of us plus other Forest & Bird members. For the most part of the day we did planning. However we did go and watch a few other presentations including one from some of our Forest & Bird Youth members. We talked about things like ‘Where is Forest & Bird Youth now’ and ‘Where is Forest & Bird Youth going’?. We discussed our vision/values and what they would look like. Also, we talked about our achievable goals for National Network between 2019-2020. One of the things I’m particularly excited about is potentially a new hub with Rotorua-Taupo which I would be involved in. It was so awesome how we all came together from around the country to work and collaborate.

Throughout this whole experience I learnt so much and met so many awesome people! The other Forest & Bird Youth members were amazing and I made friends that I will never forget. The amount of knowledge I gained from this experience is massive and I am still buzzing from the weekend. I am beyond thankful for being given this opportunity and it was a weekend that I will never forget! 

Author: Kensie Gard (14)

Kim Manunui