• March 14, 2019
MP Deborah Russell (centre right) helps power the projector. Photo: Oliver Rusden
EcoWest Festival 2019 begins this Saturday with a bicycle-powered movie, kicking off a month-long festival with more than 120 events across West Auckland.
Now in its eighth year, the EcoWest festival was set up by the EcoMatters Environment Trust to celebrate the environment and respond to “the issues of our time”, according to its website.
EcoMatters chief executive Damon Birchfield says the trust has tried to “find something for everybody".
“People have all sorts of different interests and things they want to learn about, so we’re trying to cater to that.
“It’s an opportunity to really celebrate Auckland’s unique and wonderful environment, and think about what our role is in terms of its care and looking after it. What are we personally doing that we could do differently to help make a difference?”
MP for New Lynn Deborah Russell says she believes the EcoWest festival isn’t just about the community aspect.
“I think it’s really important because it helps people work out ways of living sustainably, so instead of it being top-down government, it’s actually grassroots up.
“It’s sort of about all the small individual things that we can do in our households, to help sustainability - but there’s a space in between where we want [central] government, local government, and community groups to work at a systemic level,” she says.
Dr Russell says the Government is working on climate change, including reforms to the Resource Management Act.
The push against climate change has led students worldwide to stage “strikes” this Friday.
Dr Russell says her own teenage children will be attending the Auckland strike.
“I’m actually really pleased the kids are doing it. We need support from everyone to get climate change legislation through and in place.
“You can’t just do it top-down from the Government. You’ve actually got to get the support from the bottom-up as well so that we get a really sustained commitment to it. Otherwise an incoming government could just flip it.”
Mr Birchfield says public willingness to tackle environmental issues is positive.
“I feel that on one level more and more people are engaged and aware that the environment is a finite system that requires care,” he says.
“The issues are that the causes for environmental degradation are complex, so it’s not as simple unfortunately as remembering to take reusable bags.
“We really do need to continue to push on policy makers and government to be implementing policies that do more – and there’s still a long way to go on that front.”
The first event will be on Saturday evening and features a “cycle-powered cinema”, with the projector being powered by up to eight cycling volunteers.