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Songwriters 4 Climate Action Project

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Image: Art work by Chris Dews Taxman's Terrace Exhibition @dewsyart

Songwriters 4 Climate Action is a Project intended to bring together community-based performers through a series of workshops and activities; to help support and inspire them to write or develop songs and artwork that highlight the challenges and hopes for climate action. Our aim is to work towards live performances and record songs / videos (to a professional standard) that we can share on multiple platforms to help spread awareness and positivity around low carbon climate action and sustainability. This Project has expanded to promote the collaboration and response of artists to the work of Kaitiaki, Practitioners and other experts active in the Climate Field. Through this process we hope to support dialogue and connection between many communities and learn a thing or two along the way.

Parts of this Project have been supported by Waitematā Low Carbon Network, Grey Lynn 2030, Waitematā Local Board & Puketāpapa Local Board.

This Project started with a conversation between Dr Grant Hewison and Ema Barton, looking at ways that Holding Space could contribute and participate in positive Climate Action. We decided to work around our Songwriter Club and host a series of workshops to encourage writing and sharing around this kaupapa. Our Songwriter Club started exploring the theme of environment in April 2021. Our first official Workshop was in June 2021 and we have had regular workshops since at various venues around Tāmaki Makaurau with different focuses.


Sunday 13th June @Movespace, Mt Eden

We were very pleased and inspired by our first Workshop. It was so lovely just getting to know more about some of our local musicians and to dive into Brainstorming and discussing ideas around Climate Action! We talked about what we wanted to accomplish and explore during this project and agreed it would be great to collaborate with other Organisations already doing great work. We are interested in putting on or contributing to a 'Climate' Concert to support the international Climate Live Concert in October 2021.



Here are some notes from the brainstorming session our first group did around Climate Action which started a bunch of conversations…as you can see there is so much scope to what we can explore!

Climate Action - What does it mean?

EARTH - Gaia - Balance - Environmental Consciousness

Ego vs Collective

ENERGY - Physics - Renewable vs Fossil - Fuel

NATURE - Balance - Yin/Yang - Duality - Cycles - Holistic Practices

SCIENCE - facts vs hearsay - 1.5 Degrees - Paris Agreement - United Nations Report

Natural Cycles - Global Warming - CO2 Effects - Ice Ages

RESOURCES - Materials - Sustainability - Mining - Industries - Supply Chains - Distribution

FOOD - Farming - Ethical Sources - Sustainability - Meat / Dairy / Vege / Vegan

ANIMALS - Habitat

EXPLOITATION - People - animals - land - resources - energy

POLLUTION - Waste Management - Recycling - Littering - INDUSTRIES CARBON Foot Print - Personal - Business - Globally Consumerism - Materialism - Capitalism TRANSPORT / TRAVEL

PEOPLE - over population - different cultures / countries - History

CULTURES - Generations - Old vs New - RELIGION - Experience - Trauma

Colonisation - White Supremacy - Mono Cultures - vs Indigenous Cultures / Practices

PRIVELEDGE - How does this affect people in relation to Climate Issues?


Health care

Feminism - Equality - The empowerment of Women and marginalised cultures, groups and communities. Giving oppressed peoples the opportunity to talk / have a platform / share and acknowledge experiences.

MEDIA - MARKETING FEAR - CONTROL - DISTRACTION POLITICAL - Left vs Right Wing Agendas - Profit - Control - Partnerships War - Conflict - Peace - Agreements / Treaties ANGER - SHAME - BLAME - RESPONSIBITY

Empathy vs Apathy

Truth vs Lies - Misconceptions - Assumptions Deliberate Mis-Information and Manipulation The Matrix - The Machine - The Top 1% / 5% - The White Man Monopoly Ignorance (is bliss) MONEY - Systems - Currency - Commerse Greed - Laziness - Selfish-ness INNOVATION - Creativity - Problem Solving Focus on what we can do - not can’t do. Starting a MOVEMENT, Revolution Community - SHARING IDEAS - communication - Village Ethos Awareness - Activism - Protest - Research - Education Is it too late? Hope vs Hopelessness We can at least TRY Kaitiaki - Whakawhanaugatanga - How can we explore Te Ao Maori principles further?


How to write a great song?

How to write a song that isn’t too “Cheesy” or “Preachy"?

Angry and Depressing? Or that OK and Valid as well?

STYLE - Satire - Irony - Protest - Emotive - Poetic - Subtle - To The Point - Metaphorical



Sunday 20th June, Saturday 4th July, Saturday 17th July @Movespace, Mt Eden

These workshops were so comfy and great to start developing our little Songwriting community. We drank coffee, listened to songs, chatted and at the end of each workshop, a songwriter shared a climate conscious song they are either working on or have previously written.

We focused on reviewing some of the ‘best’ environmental songs that have made some ‘top 12 lists’ including Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall, Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, Michael Jackson’s Earth Song, Neil Young’s After The Gold Rush plus newer songs 4 Degrees by Anoni, all the good girls go to hell by Billie Eilish and PARAD(w/m)E by Sylvan Esso. It was really cool to just sit down and listen to a bunch of songs with a group of musicians and pick them a part. It is definitely inspiring and great to see some different styles and ways we can go about writing. We checked our kiwi songs: Trinity Roots Home, Land & Sea, Fat Freddy’s Hope For A Generation & Kora’s Politician. What we could gather from all these songs, having a clear phrase that can be repeated over and over again is very effective. If a listener can join in within hearing a line once or twice that is ideal!

Special thanks to: Street Georges, Big T, Roger and Bronwyn for sharing their songs along the way.

WORKSHOP 5 w. Māmā Mihirangi

Sunday 1st August @Wesley Community Centre

We tried out a new space Wesley Community Centre and had special guest Producer / Musician & Activist - Māmā Mihirangi leading this workshop. It was so great to have her share some of her music, personal stories and help facilitate the start of some important and challenging conversations. We talked about the importance of centralising Indigenous Voices with the Climate Action movement and what it can look like to be a true Ally for Te Ao Māori and BIPOC Communities. It is a very complicated and delicate topic to navigate, especially in a Westernised Country. There is a lot of fear, conditioning, misunderstanding and trauma to work through which can be overwhelming, but very liberating. We cannot explore meaningful Climate Action without acknowledging Colonisation, White Privilege, Patriarchy, Racism and the systems still in place. Native cultures have often had a symbiotic relationship with nature. A more holistic world view vs an ego-centric culture of consumerism and competition which unfortunately characterises the history of many a Colonial Society. Through our conversations and a short lyric writing exercise, we concluded that we (as a nation) literally need to learn how to listen and allow space and support for Mana Whenua to share their knowledge. We might just find the solutions we ALL need to help our planet.

We look forward to exploring more Te Ao Maori concepts and conversations around Kaitiakitanga, Manakitanga and Whakawhanaungatanga in future workshops.


Sunday 15 August @ Movespace

This workshop was with a smaller group, but very cosy and productive. We shared songs and talked of ways we can collaborate together to take our songs to the next level or how we can record/share them effectively with a bigger audience. We talked about why music and art is so important, and the role they play in shaping and moving our culture.

There is an opportunity with ART to communicate feelings and ideas in ways that is both universal and very personal. It can be super direct and confrontational or subtle and open to infinite interpretation. We know art is Powerful and it is something that makes us uniquely human. All humans can get something out of creating or interacting with art. In these workshops we are interested in using music as the medium to spread awareness and inspire the changes and innovation we need to counteract the worst impact of man-made Climate Change. We can’t deny or ignore it any longer.

Let’s look at some solutions together as a community.

We are interested in collaborating with other artists, activists and experts in the Climate Action field. Come join the movement.

Check out our facebook group or join our website chat group.

More workshops to come!

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