Thousands take to the streets for School Strike 4 Climate

Thousands of people have taken to the streets for Friday's School Strike 4 Climate.

It's the latest protests in a worldwide movement sparked by Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Participants of all ages have demonstrated across New Zealand, with protests beginnning in Wellington at 11am, Auckland at 12pm and Christchurch at 1pm.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Some businesses allowed staff to take time off to attend the event after signing the "not just business as usual" pledge
  • Most universities pledged support for the strike, with the notable exception of the University of Auckland
  • Protests took place in the main centres as well as small towns.

Refresh the page for the latest live updates.

3:49pm - The dispersing crowds in Auckland were told to continue taking the message with them. 

Thousands of students against climate change marched from Aotea Square, before blocking the entrance to the Ports of Auckland on Quay Street. 

Climate scientist Jacob Anderson was encouraged by the action.

"The tide is starting to turn - look at what has been achieved in one year," he told the crowd.

"Don't underestimate the power movements like this will have to drive the transformation needed in the next decade."

3:47pm - Climate Change Minister James Shaw says people must continue to pressure politicians.

3:40pm - Local politicians and hopefuls joined a sea of climate protestors marching through Christchurch on Friday afternoon.

Lincoln University student Isabella Hardy said was at the protest because she's passionate about the environment.

"It's really important for us to protect our land, our ocean, [and] our earth," she told Newshub.

3:30pm - National's Nick Smith told the Wellington protestors it's about creating the right adaption plan.

"The reality is the change is tougher and greater on our Pacific friends."

2:55pm - Most strikers have now moved on from Queen St, but earlier in the day the main Auckland street was chocker with protesters.

2:40pm - The Taxpayers' Union's mascot is at the climate strike calling for a "tax emergency" to be declared.

2:30pm - While the strike is officially over in Auckland, many continue to protest, chanting: "What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now." A large #ProtectIhumātao banner can also be seen at Britomart.

Those in Christchurch are sending a similar message, chanting: "Climate action, now."

Auckland strike.
Auckland strike. Photo credit: Newshub.
Christchurch strike.
Christchurch strike. Photo credit: Newshub.

2:10pm - National's agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller is calling for James Shaw, David Parker and Damien O'Connor to reject a message being expressed at a protest at Parliament. Signs read: "Help farmers phase out animal farming."

Muller says: "This is why NZ farmers feel like your Govt is a megaphone of rural criticism."

2pm - The School Strike 4 Climate NZ Twitter account claims 170,000 people are striking.

1:55pm - Auckland Transport says the strike in Auckland has moved away from Queen St and is now "blocking Quay St between Tangihua St and Tapora St". 

1:45pm - Greta Thunberg, whose remarks at the UN this week about a lack of urgency around climate changed captured global attention, has shown support for the Kiwi protests, retweeting pictures from across the country.

1:40pm - Strikes aren't only happening in the main cities, but also in some towns across New Zealand. Here's some pictures from New Plymouth. There are about 600 people marching here, according to protester Ethan Griffiths.

New Plymouth strike.
New Plymouth strike. Photo credit: Ethan Griffiths
Thousands take to the streets for School Strike 4 Climate
Photo credit: Ethan Griffiths.

1:30pm - Phil Goff was spotted at the protest, or at least one of his election hoardings was.

The Mayor shared a photo of two protesters holding the hoarding and joked the signs are "biodegradable and multi-purpose".

1:20pm - Photos from above show the scale of the Auckland protest, which stretches from Aotea Square to Shortland St.

A street filled with people.
The protest from above. Photo credit: Newshub/Harley Peters

1:10pm - A huge crowd has gathered outside Parliament.  "I can't believe I'm protesting for facts," one of the signs reads.

You can read Newshub's list of the sassiest signs at the strike here.

A huge group of people.
The protest. Photo credit: Newshub/Zane Small

1:07pm - Protesters have arrived in Christchurch. Newshub reporter Emily O'Connell says there are a couple thousand people gathered in the square.

A large group of people.
The protest. Photo credit: Newshub/Emily O'Connell.

12:40pm - Auckland protest organiser Luke Wijohn also presented to the group, lashing out at the Government, which he said allows overfarming and the continuous rise of emissions.

"This is our country... It is being controlled by the exploiters, by the colonisers and by the polluters.

"Today we make a stand! Today we draw the line!"

A kid holding a microphone.
Luke Wijohn addresses the crowd. Photo credit: Newshub/Nick Estelrich

12:25pm - Ihumātao protest leader Pania Newton addressed the crowd in Auckland, standing in front of a sign that calls climate inaction "pacific genocide".

"I am here today to remind Government that they need to take into account indigenous values when making decisions about our future and our climate."

A woman holding a microphone.
Pania Newton at the strike. Photo credit: Newshub.

12:10pm - A lone climate change denier has arrived at the Christchurch protest, which will begin in a little under an hour.

A man holds a sign saying climate change is a hoax.
The denier. Photo credit: Newshub/Emily O'Connell

11:50am - Meanwhile, things are a bit quieter in Christchurch where the protest doesn't start until 1pm. Set-up is underway but protesters are yet to arrive.

An empty square with a stage.
Christchurch. Photo credit: Newshub/Emily O'Connell

11:38am - Protesters have filled Aotea Square in Auckland central.

Many of them are carrying signs, some of them painted with jokes while others say the planet is in serious danger.

"You'll die of old age, we'll die of climate change," one says.

"Protect the planet like Mike Hosking protects his white privilege," another one says.


A sea of people and signs.
Aotea Square. Photo credit: Newshub/Alice Wilkins

11:05am - The crowd in Wellington is growing as protesters arrive in Civic Square. Photos posted to Twitter show groups of people with signs, while giant hand sculpture Quasi watches from above.

10:50am - Kids are already thinking about how they're going to get to the protest in an environmentally friendly way.

Bike Auckland posted a picture of the Point Chevalier Bike Train on Twitter, which will use pedal power to get to the protest in Auckland's CBD.

9:45am - Protesters have already begun assembling. Video posted to Facebook group Vic Deals shows a group of protesters practising chants outside Lower Hutt's The Dowse Art Musem.

"No more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil," the group shouts.

They also practice one the ringleader refers to as "the classic".

"What do we want?" she shouts to the crowd.

"Climate justice!" they respond.

9:10am - Protest leaders have spoken to media in advance of the demonstrations, including dropping in to The AM Show to explain their goals and why they support Greta Thunberg.

Auckland protest organiser Luke Wijohn even got to meet National MP Judith Collins, although he doesn't look very happy about it in a photo of the meeting she posted on her Twitter.

Collins told The AM Show she thinks the protests are a "generational thing" and the future youth will have something else to worry about.

"My generation, we were really worried about nuclear war... I do think we've just got to let them do what they want to do." 

Labour Party MP Willie Jackson said the kids need to calm down.

"Sometimes young ones have got to just have a relax, have a good time too. As well as save the world. Good luck to all the young ones."