2019 was the year that frustration over the slow reaction of leaders to climate change began to boil over, with the SchoolStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion movements taking to the streets across New Zealand and around the world.
Their calls here for the Zero Carbon Bill be passed were heeded, but the pace of change which frustrated climate change activists felt faster and more threatening to farmers and others in rural communities, sparking a counter-protest in November.
But the march was tiny compared to those calling for faster and more stringent climate action.
It was the first protest action for most of those involved, making the many variations of the sign below a potent message to politicians watching the rallies in front of Parliament:
Although it dominated the headlines, climate change wasn’t the only issue bringing people out onto the streets in 2019.
In a foretaste of 2020, which is predicted to be the year of the “culture wars” with referendums pending on assisted dying and drug reform, marchers came out in support of (and opposing) abortion reform and against euthanasia.
Mental health was a focus of the last election, and also of one of the most emotional protests of this year, when former National MP (now independent) Jami-Lee Ross joined a hikoi to Parliament calling for more action to prevent teen suicide.
Equally emotional was a protest sparked by Newsroom’s own “Taken by the State” investigation into the uplift of babies and children by Oranga Tamariki.
The Government agency is now overhauling its procedures after an internal investigation into its attempts to uplift a newborn from its mother in Hastings – reported by Newsroom’s Melanie Reid – found a litany of failures.