Students from an Auckland primary school are fed up that they're missing out on the unspoilt North Shore beaches enjoyed by locals just one generation ago.
With the help of teachers, Long Bay Primary School year six students gathered more than 3500 signatures for a petition calling for their beach to become a marine reserve.
The campaign has been so successful that members of Parliament's Environment Select Committee yesterday held court in the school hall, giving the 10 and 11 year olds an opportunity to grill government representatives about why they've been left with polluted beaches that have been robbed of marine life.
"Since the establishment of the Long Bay-Ōkura Marine Reserve in 1995, Tāmaki Makaurau - Auckland - has had a 50 percent increase in population leading to a significant increase in pressure on the mauri of the Tīkapa Moana [essence of the Hauraki Gulf]," 10-year-old Cameron said.
"It is this increase in population and the empirical evidence of decreased sea life that has us extremely concerned."
MPs from the National, Labour, and Green parties were all in attendance.
The Long Bay-Ōkura Marine Reserve is one of the few bastions of the natural environment in the area, with new housing developments extending the urban sprawl.
Students are calling for the reserve to be extended to include Winstones Cove and Waiake Beach to the south - and none of the politicians present yesterday disagreed.
Dominic and Sienna, both 10, spoke about what it's been like have their voices heard to protect their local environment.
"Kids have a voice too - they can say what needs to be heard and they are the next generation of humans," said Dominic.
"And when things get tough," said Sienna, "haere tonu, kia kaha - keep going, stay strong."
School principal Linda Barton recalled the joy she experienced as a child on the East Coast Bays beaches.
"They were just a kaleidoscope of different animals - as a kid you could spend so long just looking at them," she said.
"Over time, it's just decreased and decreased. My childhood was prior to the developments up at Torbay and Glamorgan, which was the start of the decline of the beach. And it has never really rejuvenated back to where it was when I was."
Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick said the environmental and civics education taking place at Long Bay Primary - led by teacher Aaron Joyes - was exemplary.
"The kids were incredible and so well researched. They demonstrated their passion and knowledge of their local area," she said.
"As far as I'm concerned, this is what education can and should be across this country."
Labour Party MP Marja Lubeck said she would do her best to help the students' vision come true, and National MP Erica Stanford said that - pending caucus discussions - it was something she thought the party should also get behind.
The MPs will now report back to Parliament's Environment Committee.