The Auckland, New Zealand, chapter of a climate organization inspired by activist Greta Thunberg disbanded itself on Saturday because it was a “racist,” “white-dominated space,” the group announced in a Facebook post on Saturday.
School Strike 4 Climate, a movement of student protests against global warming, began in the wake of Thunberg’s activism and ballooned into widespread student strikes in 2019. Around 20,000 New Zealand students went on strike in March 2019, organized by School Strike New Zealand, which describes itself as “the New Zealand movement of Greta Thunberg’s strikes in Europe.”
The Auckland branch of the group said on Saturday that it had agreed to dissolve.
“BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, so the fight for climate justice should be led by their voices and needs, not Pākehā [white New Zealander] ones,” the group wrote on Facebook. “We are disbanding because, since 2019, SS4C AKL (as well as the wider national group, though we can’t speak on their behalf) has been a racist, white-dominated space.”
The organization apologized “for the hurt, burnout, and trauma caused to many BIPOC individuals” as well as “for the further trauma caused by our slow action to take responsibility. We recognise that this apology can never be enough to make up for our actions on top of years of systemic and systematic oppression.”
Sophie Handford, one of the founders of School Strike New Zealand, expressed skepticism of the move in a statement to The Guardian. Hanford coordinated the group in 2019.
“There is a real need to cede space to Indigenous-led kaupapa [policy] and to transform the movement so that it can properly uphold the collective aspiration of climate justice,” Hanford said. However, “I’m a little concerned that this sends a message of division or that not everyone is needed.”