Dear Hon. Kiritapu Allen, Minister of Conservation,
This Collective Submission is made by Track Zero Trust (Track Zero) and a group of 28 prominent, individual artists and scientists from around Aotearoa whose expertise and creativity helps us to understand our inter-connection with the natural world and who deeply care about shaping a better, more sustainable future.
We tautoko/support the Joint Submission prepared by organisations across New Zealand’s wider zero waste community (to be read in conjunction with this), which Track Zero has also signed on to. We agree with their submission in advocating for a broader framing of the problem (which will likely require more than a simple ban) to enable the wider economic and regulatory context through which these and other materials flow to be tackled at a systemic level.
Plastics cause lasting damage to our natural world and accelerate climate change. By 2050, plastic production from fossil fuels is expected to triple, contributing up to 13% of the global carbon budget adding to global warming. We believe plastic pollution requires a concerted approach of regulatory and technological solutions and a re-imagining of our cultural beliefs and practices such as production, consumption, disposability and convenience. Such a shift will need diverse communication platforms to bring about the breadth and scale of change that is needed. The inclusion of creative and cultural communities and of artists working with scientists to communicate and implement this policy needs to be considered.
Arts and sciences can work together to change hearts and minds, to communicate complex concepts, and to allow people to feel included in the process when policy change is implemented. Creative tools also work as scientific tools, to measure changes in knowledge, understanding and compliance.
There are many examples where arts-science partnerships have been incredibly effective in communicating a concept, or they have resulted in measured behaviour change. For example, the award-winning partnership between Siouxsie Wiles (Microbiologist and Science Communicator) and Toby Morris (Cartoonist and Writer) on COVID-19 and collaborative initiatives such as ‘The Unseen’, an art-science-community project exploring marine ecosystems and climate change by Gabby O’Connor (Artist, Science Communicator, Antarctic researcher and PhD candidate).
Artists have a powerful role to play in our response to plastic pollution and the climate crisis. Art connects with people on an emotional level, in ways that scientific statistics and graphs cannot – both are important ways of communicating these critical issues. This visceral response can help to create entry points that make people feel more engaged and inspired to act.
Many of Aotearoa’s highly celebrated artists already use their creativity and cultural experience to draw attention to our relationship with oceans, rivers and land and the urgent need to protect our natural world. Artists like Moana Maniapoto, Miria George, Nina Nawalowalo, Carol Brown, George Nuku, Troy Tu’ua, Nigel Brown, Joseph Michael, Gareth Farr, Warren Maxwell and Michel Tuffery and many others continue to inspire diverse audiences in communities across Aotearoa and the world. Some examples of works of art by several artists who are part of this Collective Submission are included below.
We support many of the recommendations in this proposal and encourage the Government to show progressive leadership to ensure inclusive, ambitious steps to tackle plastic pollution and our current climate crisis. We believe we can come together to make a difference – drawing on all kinds of skills and knowledge, artistic, scientific, mātauranga Māori and that founded in culture and personal experience – working with the Government to help bring about a better, more sustainable future.
Dr Anne-Gaelle Ausseil
Environmental Research Scientist
Nigel Brown onzm
Script Writer, Poet, Broadcaster and
2019 IIML Writer in Residence, Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington
Dr Daniel Collins
Freshwater and Climate Change Scientist
Dr David Hall
Lecturer in Politics, School of Social Sciences and Public Policy, AUT University
Professor Bronwyn Hayward
Professor of Political Science at University of Canterbury
Dr Daniel Hikuroa
Servant of Papatūānuku
Tumuaki – Te Kura Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School
Professor Shaun Hendy
Scientist, Author and
Director of Te Pūnaha Matatini
Poet and Children’s Book Author
Lisa McLaren qsm
PhD candidate, Climate Activist
Writer and Doctor
Composer, Musician and Producer
Musician, Current Affairs host
Founder/Manager of Track Zero, Development Specialist
Designer, Artist and Educator
Lisa Reihana onzm
Professor James Renwick
Head of School, Geography, Environment
and Earth Sciences/ Te Kura Tātai Aro Whenua, Victoria University of Wellington/Te Herenga Waka
Dr Jenny Rock
Scientist and Artist
Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou – Kōpara-tuhi (Singer/Songwriter)
Associate Professor Craig Stevens
Dr Carla van Zon onzm
Arts Festival Artistic Director, Curator and Producer
Producer and Founding Partner of Brown Sugar Apple Grunt Productions