Made with support from Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.
The small seaside settlement of Ohāwe sits under the protective shadow of Taranaki Maunga, but whānau in south Taranaki are in a race against time to protect their taiao from climate change.
NIWA says 2021 was officially the warmest since records began in 1908 - with an average temperature of 13.56C. With these rising temperatures, Ngāti Ruahine and Ngāti Ruanui lawyer Alison Cole says a growing concern is local awa which draw water from Taranaki maunga.
"That pristine water is coming from the ice caps on the mountain. As climate change increases temperatures, we are losing that ice so over time the source of our awa is going to be lost," Cole says.
Rangatapu Reserve Trust chair Nigel Nuku is seeing massive erosion along the Taranaki coastline. He says extreme weather events are becoming more common and recent flooding carved up the riverbanks.
"You used to be able to swim, it was quite safe. It's not safe anymore. We need support to preserve our moana, our whenua, our awa," Nuku says.
Climate change activist Tuhiao Bailey says whānau in Taranaki are empowering themselves, but can only do so much.
"The problem with our people is that we've got other issues which are more urgent like housing and unemployment and health. So it's hard," Bailey says.
But whānau in Taranaki are taking a stand and demanding change for future generations. For Cole, the rongoa is Māori communities leading climate change action in Aotearoa.
"If we have a Maori climate ambassador who can bring those policies into fruition I think we might actually have a chance to really avert the climate crisis."