“You still won’t listen to us”

“How Dare you” – strike convenor Zoe de Malmanche and echoes from the UN.

Her history teacher probably captured the essence of it all.

“You know Zoe, he said, what you are doing is much more important than history. You are making history.”

Zoe is Zoe de Malmanche, 17-year-old Mount College pupil, and convenor and driving force behind SS4 Climate – Friday’s strike by schoolkids demanding climate change action now. Not only was the history teacher giving his blessing to Zoe’s absence from history class, he was probably quietly proud.

And when the strikers, most if not all born this century, took their concerns for the world onto The Strand, Zoe de Malmanche was out front with the big banner. “We demand climate change now.”

Who is this kid of French and Maori descent, this kid with a worldly conscience, this kid who will next year probably study law, political science and public policy so she can stay in the political sphere and do something about climate change? “Something I know I love doing.”

Friday’s strike was no moment of whimsy, of playful fancy. Zoe’s world is facing a catastrophe and she was stepping up to save it.  Zoe de Malmanche is a self-confessed – “probably a greenie, yes” – and driven by policy not party.

“People will say I have been indoctrinated by my parents. My Mum was always conscious of her environmental impact. She wouldn’t buy packets of chips from the supermarket because of all that single use plastic. And I’d get so upset about it. Why can't we just be normal? I wasn't in denial, I was one of those people where it was much easier not to bother with things like that.”

Mum de Malmanche was educating Zoe – “I am doing this for your future,” she would say. Then when teenage Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg skipped school and clambered onto the world stage demanding action to secure the planet’s future, here in Tauranga Zoe de Malmanche sensed something serious going down. “I thought, hang on, this is my future.”

And when baby boomers suggest she belongs at school, that there’s a good reason the world doesn’t look to teenagers for guidance on fraught issues of public policy, Zoe de Malmanche calmly steels herself. “Well, we go to school and we learn and you still won't listen to us. We are taught stuff you weren't taught, we’re listening to stuff you won’t listen to because it's easier.  It's much easier to bury your head in the sand and not do anything about it.”

She feels she has heard every counter-argument under the sun and it shocks her. “What are you trying to tell us, that we don’t have a future?”

She says there’s Sir David Attenborough, arguably one of the most educated scientists in the world, and we still won't listen to him. “So it's like what can we do?”

Protest, and continue protesting. “We have a history of protest in this country, we have the right and the ability to protest, it’s in our blood. And we have got to the stage it is the only way for our voices to be heard.”

Then last week Donald Trump’s sarcastic tweet in response to Greta Thunberg’s provocative, defiant and now celebrated “how dare you” speech to the UN in which she slammed leaders for praising young activists while failing to deliver on climate change.

“Seems like a very happy young girl,” said the POTUS. “Looking forward to a bright and wonderful future. So nice to see!”

 Zoe de Malmanche is personally affronted. “Was he actually listening to what she was saying? Greta delivers this really emotional, thought provoking and powerful speech and that's his response. How pathetic, how embarrassing. And from a world leader.”

Zoe has some 17-year-old wisdom to impart. “When you create a conversation, people start asking questions, then they start learning, and then they start doing something about it.” It’s a damaged world but you feel it’s being passed into good hands.

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Keep up the great work!

Posted on 01-10-2019 09:22 | By

Go for it Zoe - huge thanks to you and the other leaders of the current climate activism - you are awesome. I attended last Friday and am now encouraged to once again hope for the future of the planet and humans. Rosa Parks breached conventional ’manners’, stood up for her rights and her action propelled the American Civil Rights movement forward. Keep up the great work!


Posted on 01-10-2019 06:31 | By Jem762

Firstly, good on your mum! She has the right idea. If it is not reusable or recyclable we should be doing away with it. But Zoe, you have been fooled by mass media indoctrination and I encourage you to look deeper and further in regards to climate. If you are as free thinking and strong as this anonymously written article suggests you should have questions which need answering. If not, keep protesting.

It would be easier to take you people seriously

Posted on 01-10-2019 06:11 | By mac attack

If you weren’t still welded to your phones...if you picked up after yourselves...if I didn’t witness half of you get picked up by gas guzzling carbon emitting vehicles after last Fridays "strike". None of us are perfect, including you lot, so please unfold your arms, approach people with a bit more respect and perhaps you’ll receive it in return.


Posted on 30-09-2019 22:54 | By

how dare you young ones tell us older people what to do we did not have plastic bags or bottles we would walk 10ks to school and worst of all no cell phones the biggest contributer of all to global warming nor did we go on overseas holidays so get your facts correct not one young person has been able to argue the true facts just brain washed facts

No, How Dare You!

Posted on 30-09-2019 22:12 | By Mommatum

Condemn Zoe for standing up for what she believes in. I’m still not 100% sure about climate change, but Zoe is sufficiently concerned to actually do something about it including her plans to study towards a future in public policy. She’s thinking ahead and far from telling others how to live as you put it, her actions are with the view to ensuring a better quality of life not just for us but for future generations. I’m in that category Zoe and her peers would consider a “fossil”, but I’m exciting at the emerging social consciousness of our youth and particularly young women like Zoe.


Posted on 30-09-2019 21:15 | By dumbkof2

speake to people demanding things and of course they won’t listen to you. go back to school and learn a few manners first

How dare you...

Posted on 30-09-2019 20:11 | By GreertonBoy

Try and tell others how to live when you are a consumer yourself? I bet you have all of the modern conveniences, mobile phone, car... use electricity, wear imported clothes and bling... Until you have none of these things, you are an equal part of the problem so don’t tell me how to live.