Curriculum Perspectives

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 99–102 | Cite as

Climate change education in New Zealand

Point and Counterpoint


New Zealand is an island nation with a unique biota and only a very recent record of human habitation. As with many island nations, the surrounding marine environment both stabilises the climate and, conversely, imposes a degree of vulnerability on the island’s ecosystems and the human populations that tend to gather along the coasts. In spite of strong evidence for climate change and for factors implicated in climate change within the New Zealand societal and economic structures, the New Zealand education system is generally lacking in climate change education. The aim of this article is to review the current status of climate change education in New Zealand and the opportunities that exist to include it in the curriculum, from early childhood to secondary education and beyond. The case is proposed that it is now critical that these opportunities be seized.


Climate change education New Zealand 


  1. 350 Aotearoa. (2016). 350 Aotearoa, Auckland. Retrieved 9 November 2016 from
  2. Climate Action Tracker. (2016). Climate Action Tracker New Zealand. Retrieved 2 November 2016 from
  3. Duhn, I. (2012). Making ‘place’for ecological sustainability in early childhood education. Environmental Education Research, 18(1), 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Generation Zero. (2016). What does your zero carbon future look like? Retrieved 8 November 2016 from
  5. International Panel on Climate Change. (2013). Climate Change 2013: The physical science basis. In: T. F. Stocker, D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S. K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex, & P. M. Midgley (Eds.), Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (pp. 1535). New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. King, M. (2003). The penguin history of New Zealand. Auckland: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
  7. Kollmuss, A., & Agyeman, J. (2002). Mind the gap: Why do people act environmentally and what are the barriers to pro-environmental behaviour? Environmental Education Research, 8(3), 239–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. McNamara, K. E. (2013). Raising awareness about climate change in Pacific communities. Environmental Education Research, 19(6), 864–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ministry for the Environment. (2016). New Zealand’s action on climate change. Retrieved 7 November 2016 from
  10. Ministry of Education. (1996). Te Whāriki. Wellington: Learning Media.Google Scholar
  11. Ministry of Education. (2007a). The New Zealand curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media.Google Scholar
  12. Ministry of Education. (2007b). Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. Wellington: Learning Media.Google Scholar
  13. New Zealand Climate Change Centre. (2014). Climate change: IPCC fifth assessment report—New Zealand findings. Retrieved 1 November 2016 from
  14. New Zealand Science Teacher. (2014). Examining a changing world: Teaching climate science in New Zealand. Retrieved 8 November 2016 from
  15. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. (2015). Preparing New Zealand for rising seas: Certainty and uncertainty. Retrieved 1 November 2016 from Ministry for the Environment, Wellington, New Zealand.Google Scholar
  16. Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. (2016). Climate change and agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases. Retrieved 8 November 2016 from
  17. Pramling Samuelson, I., & Kaga, Y. (2008). The contribution of early childhood education to a sustainable society. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  18. Royal Society of New Zealand. (2016). Climate change implications for New Zealand. Retrieved 8 November 2016 from

Copyright information

© Australian Curriculum Studies Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Technology, Environmental, Mathematics and Science Education Research Centre (TEMS)Univerity of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations