Should New Zealand accept Pacific climate change migrants into the country?

The question of whether New Zealand should accept Pacific climate change migrants into the country will be the hot topic of discussion by a distinguished panel representing diverse sections of society (politics, academia, policy community and civil society) as part of the annual Macmillan Brown lecture series at UC.

  • Date: 18 October at 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • Location: A1 Lecture Theatre

The panellists:

  • Dr Megan Woods is minister responsible for greater Christchurch regeneration, energy and resources, research, science and innovation, and responsibility for the earthquake Commission. She was responsible for climate change for the Labour Party while in opposition.
  • Mr Lopeti Senituli is the political and media advisor to the prime minister of Tonga, former CEO of Internal Affairs and former prominent regional peace activist, environmentalist and human rights campaigner.
  • Dr Iati Iati is a political scientist and Pacific specialist at the University of Otago. He is co-deputy president of the Pacific Islands Political Studies Association. 
  • Dr Darren Brunk is a peace studies expert and humanitarian specialist for Oxfam.

While countries around the world have committed themselves to engaging with the climate change threat and building up resilience, there has been little discussion on commitment to potential climate change migrants. Many people in Pacific island states such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands fear being enveloped by the encroaching sea. What do we do with those leaving their island countries if they become inundated or ‘sink’?

Will Aotearoa New Zealand and other big countries extend a helping hand?    

The idea is to extend the discussions beyond just the environmental, economic, technological, political and ideological narratives into the humanitarian realm.  This is part of a broader project by the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (MBC) at UC to re-imagine innovative approaches to broader global, regional and local issues such as climate change and migration, using the critical humanity discourse.

The panel night will also include the presentation of prizes by the minister to the winners of the schools climate change essay writing competition organized by MBC. The event is open to the public. 

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