This week, Brian and Eda celebrate Mother Nature.
We here at Craccum are guilty-as-charged for loving nature.
Of course, as with anything good, that love is in moderation. We’re not entering ‘UK woman marrying a tree’ territory here (which is apparently such a widespread phenomenon that it warrants its own Wikipedia page). But what we’re saying is that among the hustle and bustle of University, it’s reinvigorating to connect with nature away from the noise, pollution, and activity of city life. We also value the natural world, and want to contribute our bit to counter the damage of human and industrial action. No tree matrimony here.
Places to connect with the Earth around Auckland Central may seem few and far beyond the Domain and Albert Park, although with the latter being graced with PDA by day and small rodents by twilight, it is enough to keep us away. The closest we may ever get to remembering what nature looks like is when the Recreation Centre contractors eventually hit the mantle of the Earth.
Only 19% of Auckland’s stream networks pass through native forest, signalling high volumes of land clearance and urban development. Before Auckland City was built over by concrete and glass, Waihorotiu Stream was once a fishable harbour that flowed gracefully down Queen Street from what is now Myers Park, to Fort Street. Waihorotiu once carried waka and provided a water source, but it is now buried under storm water pipes in the form of a sewer.
Unless you are Phil Goff, a brilliant urban planner or environmental scientist, or you have a sugar daddy who can fund the restoration of Waihorotiu, it can feel like we are powerless in these big dreams of sustainable living. In an ideal world, we would have free, carbon-neutral transport, swimmable and habitable waters, restoration of mana whenua, inner-city native forest and birds, community composting and gardening, and sustainable construction projects. Perhaps, every person in the world could marry a tree, but all that would achieve is lowering the global levels of the sex hormone oxytocin.
Even though our individual power is small, it is motivation for us to look introspectively and question if we’re doing enough to protect the planet. Whether it’s thrifting, plant-based diets or committing to public transport, many students find their own ways to cut back on pollution. Auckland Transport is also doing their bit to reduce pollution by making it hard for people to get anywhere. Whatever a sustainable lifestyle looks like for people, we want to celebrate that in this week’s Craccum. It’s also an opportunity to question if as a university, we’re doing enough to tackle climate action. In the Times Higher Education rankings, UoA is the lowest ranked university in New Zealand on climate action.
While it is likely that our individual actions have a collective power, some collective powers might get us further than all going vegan at once. It’s the tedious stuff like lobbying MPs, writing to your local councillor, and engaging with the local board that makes a difference. And recognisably, that’s harder than ditching plastics and dairy.
Maybe your moment is the next time an AT person approaches you to take their 10 minute survey.
Eda Tang (she/her) and Brian Gu (he/him)
Co-Editors of Craccum 2021