A senior lecturer in Pacific Studies at Victoria University says support from churches is crucial if the government is to help relocate Pacific Islanders made homeless by rising sea levels.
The New Zealand Presbyterian Church has decided to advocate for potential refugees in the Pacific nations.
It's urging the government to start making resettlement strategies to cope with the effects of climate-change, and Teresia Teaiwa says that's more likely with support from churches.
"If a government unilterally made a decision, it would need to do a lot of PR to help the broader public buy into it. But I think with churches, if churches come onboard they can play a crucial role in getting broader buy in from New Zealand citizens."
Teresia Teaiwa says churches have the ability to gain public support and communicate issues to people in moral terms.