On 27th January 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand the hometown of my wife, an unprecedented rain event arrived in all its fury and grandeur, causing lives to be lost and path of destruction in its wake. While we are all too aware that this type of devastating weather event is not new or unique, the frequency and velocity of major weather events hitting communities and causing heartbreaking impacts are only worsening. Yet for residents of Auckland living in a region up until now largely unaffected by widespread flooding, the element of surprise was brutal and unforgiving.
Tāwhirimātea, the deity of the weather as Māori legend would tell us, may indeed be speaking a climate change warning.
New and more wide-reaching implications of climate change continue to be evidenced at every turn, Auckland is now a new flooding casualty. One example of impact, in amongst the countless others – how does this look for future insurance coverage in flood-affected areas of Auckland at a time that this region has not ever experienced the equivalent?
The first national climate change risk assesment , published in 2020, identified 675,500 New Zealanders as living in areas already prone to flooding. A further 72,065 were living at risk if some of the most dramatic effects of sea level rise hit.
Excerpt from article by Michael Naylor, The Conversation , viewed 06/02/2023
Let us heed the warning from Tāwhirimātea and continue our collective climate change global efforts, with the belief that they will slowly but surely make way for the āniwaniwa, raindrops reflecting the sunlight – the rainbow, heralding a future of hope for the children of Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother).
Māori legend excerpts in this article from Basil Keane, ‘Tāwhirimātea – the weather’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/tawhirimatea-the-weather/print (accessed 6 February 2023)