History of Transition Towns in New Zealand

In 2001 Rob Hopkins began teaching a Practical Sustainablity course in Ireland, based on the principles of Permaculture.   More than just an organic gardening technique, it encompasses a whole way of thinking about the world and how we use it.  The foundations are Earth care, people care, and fair share.

Students combined practical gardening work and natural building, with classroom sessions.  In June 2005 Rob organised a two day conference on “the challenge and opportunity of peak oil” with speakers such as Richard Heinberg, author of ‘Peak Everything’.  The community then launched an Energy Descent Action Plan.  This was the first attempt in the world at designing a timetabled strategy for weaning a town off fossil fuels, and towards a lower carbon footprint.

Richard Heinberg came to NZ in October last year, and he brought these ideas to the Eco Show in Taupo.

From the Eco show workshops on Transition Towns there sprang up a large discussion group and a fantastic website to support the 48 towns and suburbs across the country currently involved in Transition. Most have created a steering group, kicked off community projects and engaged in awareness raising activities. Some are applying to become Charitable Trusts, in order to seek funding from organisations that require such a structure to relate (give) to.

Some groups have subgroups formed and are beginning to look at all the key areas of life.  Food has been a popular topic for a subgroup, but there are people involved in discussions around energy, transport, waste, health and economics as well.

Many groups have a goal of eventually launching a community defined, community implemented "Energy Descent Action Plan" over a 15 to 20 year timescale.

Humankind used amazing ingenuity and intelligence as we used up the available energy last century. We can use these same qualities as we negotiate our way down from the peak of the energy mountain.

If we plan and act early enough and use our creativity and cooperation to find the skills, knowledge and imagination within our communities then we can build a future which will be more resilient, fulfilling and gentle on the Earth than our lifestyle is today.