Climate Talk

New Zealand is stealing from the peoples of the Pacific. We are stealing their land, their homes, their water, and in doing so, we are jeopardising their future.

In the choices we make to produce our food, power our cities and fuel our transport, we are threatening the very existence of Pacific Islands as sovereign nations.

Climate pollution is accelerating floods, droughts and cyclones at a pace and scale that may leave some of the most vulnerable islands in the Pacific uninhabitable.

The drop in global emissions caused by Covid-19 lockdowns is likely only temporary. And even with rapid reductions of greenhouse gases, tens of millions of people are projected to be displaced globally.


In the Pacific, it could mean an entire population is dispossessed, exposing them to an international legal regime ill-equipped to protect them.

Yet, in advocating for new international rules we admit that it is too late to abate the warming climate.

We concede that climate displacement across international borders is inevitable. There is very real danger in this approach.

Planning how to provide for people threatened by climate displacement risks providing ourselves with an excuse to continue an economic model underpinned by polluting the atmosphere.

More than that, we distract from our legal obligation to compensate Pacific countries for the damage we have contributed to.

Of course, without a massive downward shift in the global emissions trajectory, we may have to confront the reality of cross-border displacement in our region.


Our approach should uphold our international legal obligation to recognise the sovereign equality of all states, and also accord with Aotearoa’s first international agreement, Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

If Pacific peoples are forced to seek refuge here, how would we honour the sovereign rights of a country destroyed by the climate, and not cause further injustice in light of Te Tiriti and our failure to honour Māori sovereignty in Aotearoa?

We can’t seek to remedy climate injustice in the Pacific by furthering injustices in Aotearoa. We need to start engaging with hapū and iwi on these issues consistent with Te Tiriti.

And if asked to by the Pacific, we should be allies in developing new legal norms for the protection of the climate dispossessed, both human dignity and sovereign equality, recognising that our first obligation is to stop emitting pollution.

 By starting these conversations sooner, rather than later, maybe, just maybe, we have a better chance of a more just future for everyone.

Nā Teall Crossen, PSA member, environmental lawyer, Green Party candidate and author of 'The Climate Dispossessed: Justice for the Pacific in Aotearoa?'


Also in this issue:

News in Brief

In our News in Brief, Pasefika representation is being implemented across our union, we announce a new Māori leadership role, and acknowledge the anniversary of the March 15 attacks.

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President's Message

Kia ora e te whānau o Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi

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Nevertheless we're Persisting!

The theme for our Women’s Network Conference in March was to have been ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’.

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"I found it very easy"

A year into the global pandemic, the roll out of vaccinations is being welcomed by many workers on the frontline.

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Saving our Libraries

The PSA has helped defeat a proposal to partially-privatise Wellington library and slash its budget.

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Bridging the Digital Divide

Imagine a world where you can’t just jump online to apply for jobs, access services or communicate with friends or family.

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“It’s not easy opening your hearts up”

The opening hearings in the Waitangi Tribunal’s Mana Wahine Inquiry have heard powerful kōrero about the power, authority and status held by wāhine Māori in pre-colonial Aotearoa.

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Hard won recognition

An interim equal pay agreement for DHB administration and clerical workers is being greeted with a mixture of satisfaction and relief.

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“We’ve come a long way”

Ten years on from the February 22 earthquake we reflect on the challenges faced by our members in Canterbury as they helped their community to rebuild.

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Summer Snaps Competition

We’ve had a great response to our PSA Plus Holiday Homes Photo competition with some quality snaps making it hard to choose a winner.

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Fight back in Myanmar

The military coup in Myanmar has deeply shaken hopes for democracy but public servants and unions are fighting back.

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Plea for more sick leave

PSA home support members have told a parliamentary select committee they need more sick leave to keep themselves and their clients safe.

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What do we want from health & disability review?

As we await the Government’s response to the health and disability sector review, we asked our PSA Community Public Services and DHB sector committees what they’re looking for.

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"No fear factor" about disability

The formation of a network for disabled staff at Inland Revenue snowballed out of a desire to move beyond a “one click, one size fits all” mentality.

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Leading the Way

It may say something about Brad Hedger’s commitment to the union that he agreed to speak to Working Life about his role as a PSA delegate just days before his wedding.

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Challenging the Norm

Working mum Pip Bennett decided to research gender norms after becoming frustrated that everything was being left to her.

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Men raising boys

A new book has inspired PSA member and stay-at home dad Aaron Packard to consider how we can help men to be more hands-on fathers

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#My Mihi challenge

Learning a language is about starting out small and taking that first step.

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Around & About

The Pride March in Auckland features among the events in our PSA picture page for this issue.

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Big Brother Bosses - should you be worried?

Imagine you’re using a computer. Someone else installed software on it, and uses it to track your keystrokes, learn your password and access your personal email account.

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