Dame Jane Campion and the 2017 New Zealander of the Year, Taika Waititi, are the latest in a long line of leading New Zealanders to sign an open letter urging Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern end oil and gas exploration.

More than 60 notable individuals and associations, including scientists, health professionals, iwi leaders, businesspeople, politicians, unions, journalists, poets, actors and musicians, have so far put their name to the powerful letter, which encourages Ardern and her Government to turn her “passion into action” on climate change.

Ardern made history in the lead-up to the election when she stated that climate change is the nuclear free moment of her generation.

World-leading screenwriter, producer, and director, Dame Jane Campion, says tackling climate change is a necessity.

“For me, supporting my Prime Minister’s aim to move strongly and decisively to address climate change is a clear necessity; I want my daughter and all others to inherit a viable planet. Nothing on this earth is more important,” she says.

Groups including the PSA, the New Zealand Medical Association, Unite Union and the Public Health Association, Greenpeace and Forest and Bird; scientists including Professor James Renwick and Dr Jim Salinger; Prof Margaret Mutu FRSNZ, Chairperson of Te Rūnanga-ā-Iwi o Ngāti Kahu, the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Wellington, Rt Rev Justin Duckworth; New Zealand Poet Laureate, Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh; and businesspeople including Phillip Mills, are among those who are supporting the call.

One of New Zealand’s leading climate change scientists, Professor James Renwick, says New Zealand needs to take urgent action on the climate by ending oil and gas exploration.

“All nations need to reduce carbon emissions as soon as possible and New Zealand can show the world how it’s done”, he says.

Dr Alex Macmillan, Public Health Physician and Co-Convener of Ora Taiao (The New Zealand Climate and Health Council), says climate change is one of the most pressing medical issues facing the world today.

“We know that to protect health from dangerous climate change the world needs to leave known and new coal, oil and gas in the ground, and create a fair and healthy shift to renewable energy. New Zealand is not immune from the health impacts of climate change. New Zealand is not exempt from obligations to end fossil fuel exploration and extraction,” she says.

Greenpeace Executive Director, Russel Norman, says science clearly shows that the world can’t afford to burn most of the existing reserves of fossil fuels, let alone seek out and burn new reserves if we are to avoid extremely dangerous climate change.

“The Pacific is on the frontlines of climate change and we must act swiftly to do our part in the global fight to slow down and mitigate the effects we’re already experiencing,” he says.

“Over the past year in New Zealand, we’ve experienced large-scale flooding, fires, long periods of drought, and cyclones – events that are made more likely because of climate change.”

Other well-known New Zealanders including musician Tiki Taane and actors Lucy Lawless and Robyn Malcolm have also signed the letter. It will remain open for signatures, before formally being handed in to the Prime Minister.