Gen Less film

What’s the film about?

Climate change is a defining challenge of today, so we drew inspiration from those who had their own defining moments in history. Words from some of the most revered people in history have been brought together to galvanise New Zealanders into action on climate change.

Permission to appear in the film was gained from the estates or their representatives. The universal response from the estates was they were honoured to have these famous voices brought back from the past to support action on such a significant issue.

The karanga heard near the end of the film was written by Joe Cooper, the son of Dame Whina Cooper, who features in the film. The full version and translation are available below the video.

Watch: Our Defining Moment | Join Gen Less | 1:38 min

The karanga

He karanga ki nga iwi puta noa i te ao ki nga nekehanga ahuarangi o te ao -

Kia mataara" Kaua e tukua
Kia orata" ngia te ao
Kia tupato! Kia tupato!
Kia tupato! I nga korohu kino

To the people of the world regards to climate change

Be awake; Be vigilant; Be cautious do not allow the destruction of the world through harmful carbon emissions in our atmosphere.

Be awake! Be vigilant! Be cautious!

Who is in the film and what they were known for?

Martin Luther King: An American minister and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955 until assassinated in 1968. His infamous speech ‘I have a dream’ called for equality and an end to racism in the United States. His many awards include the Nobel Peace Prize and Time Person of the Year. 

Nelson Mandela: A South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who became the country’s first black head of state, from 1994 to 1999. Widely regarded as an icon of democracy and social justice, his more than 250 honours included the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Neil Armstrong: The first person to walk on the moon. The American astronaut made history on 20 July 1969 when an estimated 530 million viewers worldwide witnessed the moment he said ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’.

Eleanor Roosevelt: The longest serving First Lady of the United States, from 1933 to 1945, was a political activist and a champion of human rights who also served as United States Delegate to United Nations. 

Carl Sagan:  A 20th century American astronomer, cosmologist and science populariser whose best-selling book Cosmos became a television documentary series in the 1980s. Sagan said global warming was a growing, man-made danger like the natural development of Venus into a hot and dangerous planet with greenhouse gases. His defining moment was requesting that the Voyager satellite be turned around to take the first ever photo of the Earth seen from the edge of the solar system – the famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’.

Lady Bird Johnson: The first lady of United States from 1963–1969 was regarded foremost as an environmentalist. The Highway Beautification Act 1965 was nicknamed ‘Lady Bird’s Bill’. Her global visibility helped raise awareness of ecological threats; she often spoke about the costs of an increasingly technological society to not only the earth but humanity itself.

Robert F. Kennedy: The younger brother of President John Kennedy was Attorney General and later a US Senator until being assassinated in 1968. A strong advocate for civil rights and social justice. On the campaign trail Kennedy proposed to pass laws about dumping and throwing refuse in lakes and streams and into the air. “And I think that’s what’s going to make the difference in this country.”   

Stephen Hawking:  World-renowned English theoretical physicist who hypothesised about the past to solve great mysteries of the universe. The author of bestseller A Brief History of Time, who died in 2018, used his platform to warn human activity was irreversibly damaging the planet and urgent action was needed. “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible” he told the BBC in 2017.

Albert Einstein:  One of the most influential scientists of the 20th century, famous for developing the general theory of relativity and the mass-energy equivalence equation
‘E = mc2’. The German-born physicist is considered one of the greatest genius of all time.

Richard Feynman:  A Nobel Prize-winning American physicist, known best for his contributions to quantum physics, quantum electrodynamics and particle physics.  

Kofi Annan:  A Ghanian diplomat who was Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006. Remembered for improving lives of others, he was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 with the UN for work toward a more peaceful world.

Malcolm X:  An African-American Muslim minister and activist who challenged mainstream measures of protest during the human rights movement. This key promoter of race pride and Black Nationalism was assassinated in 1965.  

John F. Kennedy:  President of the United States from 1961 until assassinated in 1963. The Cold War and managing Soviet Union relations dominated his presidency, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also became a civil rights supporter.

Sir Edmund Hillary:  Legendary mountaineer who devoted much of his life to environmental and humanitarian efforts. In 1953 he and Sherpa Tenzin Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest. The New Zealand icon later called for Everest to be put on the United Nations’ list of endangered heritage sites because of the risks of climate change. 

Princess Diana:  Her charity and activist work centered on children, youth, AIDS and the removal of landmines. First wife of Charles, Prince of Wales and the mother of princes William and Harry.   

Anne Frank:  The Diary of Anne Frank, documenting life in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, made teenage Anne an emblem of bravery and hope.

Mahatma Gandhi:  The leader of the Indian movement for independence from British rule (1947). Gandhi’s concept of non-violent protest was inspiration for others, including Martin Luther King. 

Amelia Earhart: The first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1932. An activist for women’s rights, she tragically disappeared during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 1937. 

Mother Teresa:  Considered one of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th Century, the Albanian nun and missionary devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor in Indian slums and around the world. She was canonised as a Saint in 2016. 

Winston Churchill:  Widely considered one of the 20th Century’s most significant figures. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 – 1945, he led Britain to victory in the Second World War. 

Dame Whina Cooper:  A respected kuia who worked tirelessly for social justice and Māori land rights. Perhaps best known for leading the 1975 land march from Te Hāpua to Parliament that marked a new era of protest and reform. Her influence was recognised in both the British Imperial and New Zealand Royal Honours system.

Franklin D. Roosevelt:  President of the United States from 1933 – 1945, including during the Great Depression. Early in office he established the Civilian Conservation Corps to help restore the economy. The nine year programme that included planting millions of trees became known equally for its positive impact on the environment. In a 1935 address Roosevelt said, “Forests are needed for mitigating extreme climatic fluctuations.” He was also famous for instigating the ‘New Deal’ that helped restore the world economy after the Great Depression.

Wangari Maathai:  Renowned Kenyan social, environmental and political activist. She founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 to help rural Kenyan women cope with streams drying up and less secure food supplies. The movement focused on planting trees and environmental conservation. She regarded women from marginalised arid and semi-arid areas as most vulnerable to climate change effects, such as drought and desertification, as they’re responsible for looking for scarce food and water.