Author: Karen Hytten – Massey University. New Zealand

The visitor centers in New Zealand national parks tell many stories. Stories about how New Zealand separated from Gondwanaland millions of years ago, stories about the life cycles of New Zealand’s many unique plants and animals, stories about Māori taonga (treasured things) and wahi tapu (sacred places), stories about early European settlers, and stories about the impacts of introduced species and effort to address them. However, a story that is almost entirely absent from the science communication in New Zealand national parks is the story of human-induced climate change. Arguably one of the greatest challenges faced by contemporary society, climate change is already having a significant impact on New Zealand’s national parks. This paper presents a comprehensive analysis of the public education materials in five New Zealand national parks: Egmont, Tongariro, Arthur’s Pass, Westland Tai Poutini and Aoraki/Mt Cook. It was found that while the visitor centers in these parks provide a rich and diverse range of public education materials, there is currently no attempt to communicate climate change science, or the impacts that climate change is having on New Zealand’s ecosystems. It is argued that this is a significant omission which needs to be addressed, and that national parks offer a unique opportunity to communicate about climate change in new and different ways.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices