Students blast ACT leader David Seymour over climate strike comments

Students have slammed Associate Education Minister David Seymour for telling those attending the School Strike 4 Climate on Friday that they should be treated as absent from school.

About 100,000 school students marched in towns and cities across the country for the first climate strike in six months.

And this year the Gaza conflict and Treaty rights were also on the protesters' agenda.

Taking over the capital's Golden Mile, the students who marched were skipping school for a cause - demanding more climate action from those in power.

"It is an issue we are not willing to turn our backs on. Clearly, today we have shown that to this Government!" said organiser Jemima Tito at Parliament.

Twenty protests were held around the motu, with crowds filling Auckland's streets and marching through New Plymouth.

"I feel responsible, I feel the consequences are happening," said one Taranaki student.

"I care about my world," another said.

The School Strike 4 Climate is a global movement that began in Sweden in 2018.

Although in New Zealand, protests now include a wide range of issues including honouring Te Tiriti (the Treaty), the fast-tracking of legislation, and a call to free Palestine.

Students, parents, and even grandparents were out in force on Friday to march for climate action.
Students, parents, and even grandparents were out in force on Friday to march for climate action. Photo credit: Newshub.

But someone who isn't on board with students taking time off school to protest is ACT leader and Associate Education Minister David Seymour.

"If they really care about the issue they should protest on a day without missing school," he said.

Newshub asked a Wellington student what she thought about Seymour telling them to get back to school.

"Mind your own business, get back to your job!" she replied.

"[Seymour] has no idea of what's going on outside of his office," said one concerned mum at the march with her daughter.

In Taranaki, marchers even created a new chant for him.

"Tahi, rua, toru, whā, Seymour is a hōhā!"

Organisers say Friday's protest is the largest protest in New Zealand to date, because all these young people feel so disconnected from the new Coalition Government.

They feel powerless and voiceless, and say those in charge are ignoring the climate crisis - and the people who are passionate about it.

"The environment is really important to us," one student said.

Students were joined by parents and grandparents too.

"We're grandmothers who really care about the future of this world for our grandchildren," said two worried grannies at the march.

Newshub asked a proud dad why he came.

"For my child's future," he told Newshub.

"I've got a child over there, she's concerned about her future."

A future that's looking increasingly bleak for them, but still worth fighting for.