top of page

Songwriters 4 Climate Action Project

Updated: Jan 31

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

Songwriters 4 Climate Action (SW4CA) is a Project intended to bring together community-based performers through a series of workshops and activities; to help support and inspire them to develop songs, artwork and spark conversations that highlight the challenges and hopes for climate action. Our aim is to work towards live performances and record songs / creative content (to a professional standard) that we can share on multiple platforms to help spread awareness and positivity around low carbon climate action. This Project has expanded to promote the collaboration and response of artists to the work of Kaitiaki and other experts or organisations active in the Climate Field. We are also interested in how Te Ao Māori can enrich our lives and deepen our connection to nature.

In 2022 the first compilation album SW4CA Vol.1 was released featuring songs from 12 local musicians. The group continues to participate in local Climate activations and community events including Earth Day, Puketāpapa Manu Aute Kite Day, Wesley and GreyLynn Markets, Global Climate Strike Tāmaki Makaurau and have run workshops during the Eco Fest and Auckland Climate Festival.

Thank you so much to our sponsors.

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 over 22 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.



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
Download PDF • 48KB

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 - Health care

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?


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 out some 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 was 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 within 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 Western Country. There is a lot of fear, conditioning, misunderstanding and trauma to work through from all perspectives 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 held a symbiotic relationship with nature. Through our conversations and a short lyric writing exercise, we concluded that we (as a nation) need to learn how to listen better 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 are looking forward to exploring these conversations more in the future and appreciate there is much work to be done to make this a safe and respectful process as possible.

Thank you Puketāpapa Local Board for supporting this workshop.


Sunday 15 August @ Movespace

This workshop was 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 direct and confrontational or subtle and open to 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.


As Covid changed our world, SW4CA adapted and took what workshops and meet ups we could online...


What a fabulous experience. Involving 12 local artists from various backgrounds, perspectives and genres; we recorded 12+ songs at the prestigious Roundhead Studios. Special thanks to Sound Engineer Matthew Gunn for your great work and to our musicians: Edwin Judd, Sam Loveridge, Grant Hewison, Claire Kendall, Tony Richards, Ravi the Poet, Roger Marshall, Ema I’u, Tony Bullen, Permission to speak, Mark Farrier and EDNA. The album was mastered by Chris Shetland @ KOG Studios.

Listen to the album HERE

ALBUM RELEASE CONCERT @ The Flagship (27 May 2022)

We celebrated the release of our digital album at The Flagship in Wynyard Quarter CBD.

This venue is home to Sustainable Coastlines - an environmental organisation doing great work for Aotearoa. It was lovely to share our songs live during NZ Music Month and to talk about the project and our journey so far.

Many thanks to Waitematā Local Board and Waitematā Low Carbon Network for funding the recording and release of this album.

Workshops and Showcase at Uxbridge, Howick (Aug 2022)

HERE is a behind the scenes video of our showcase and talk with Ecologist Chris Ferkins.

We also looked at an introduction to Te Ao Māori Concepts and Songwriting with Jean Yern exploring Kaitiakitanga, Manaakitanga and Whakawhanaungatanga

Many thanks to Howick Local Board for supporting these events in East Auckland.

SW4CA Workshop #20 & #22 Pepeha, Ancestors & Me

October 2022 @ MoveSpace MtEden as Part of The Auckland Climate Festival.

With guest speaker: Jean Yern exploring how to write a pepeha. A pepeha is an introduction of ourselves in te reo Māori and incorporates our ancestry and history; sharing our connections with the people and places that are important to us. We also discussed the power of knowing one's ancestors and how that can affect our perspectives and feed into our songwriting.

Kia Ora Albert/Eden Local Board for supporting these workshops.


Members from Songwriters4ClimateAction have participated in

Puketāpapa Manu Aute Kite Day.

Check out our video making a kite with Upcycle Collective HERE

Markets, Climate Strikes & Talks

We are interested in collaborating with other artists, activists and experts in the Climate Action field. How can the ARTS support this climate movement? Do you want to help?


Check out our facebook group or send us an email.


We recorded SW4CA Vol.2 with a new group of musicians at Roundhead Studios and look forward to sharing it in February 2024.

More performances and workshops to come!

Aroha nui.

Edited by: Ema Barton. 2024

278 views0 comments


bottom of page