Environment Canterbury welcomes youth representatives to committee

Two youth representatives have joined a key committee of the Canterbury Regional Council.

The Regional Leadership, Climate and Community Resilience Committee has appointed Oscar Bloom and Alice Docking as youth members with full voting rights.

"More and more we’re seeing that young people have an expectation that their views will be taken into account on key future-focused matters," said Committee Chair Craig Pauling.

"We saw evidence of this last year with a record number of submissions from young people to our annual plan for the 2022/23 year. This Committee provides an opportunity to involve young people in decision making on strategic issues and climate action.

"Environment Canterbury has demonstrated its support for young people influencing decisions through the Youth Rōpū and the inclusion of youth members on water zone committees. We’re taking this a step further by bringing them into this committee to contribute to the discussion as decisions are made," he said.

Alice Docking is studying a Master's degree in Planning at Lincoln University and has been a strong advocate for youth involvement in decision making. She said the decision sends a clear message to young people.

"It says that they can be involved; that their contribution will make a difference," she said. "It will encourage young people to become more involved."

Joining her on the committee, Oscar Bloom is studying Law and Communications at the University of Canterbury and said it’s important to be able to contribute as decisions are made.

"We know that local body politics is a space where decisions are made that truly affect and interact with communities. Young people are the future of these communities and are important to the sustainability of our environment and political sphere. Groups like the Youth Rōpū have taken on this mahi. We hope to do the same."

The push for youth representation was driven by our Youth Rōpū, a group of 16 people aged between 14 and 24 who are enthusiastic about the environment, civics and empowering young people across Waitaha.

The Youth Rōpū was formed in 2019 to facilitate a two-way relationship between young people and decision-makers in Waitaha. The Rōpū made recommendations of appointees for the committee to consider after seeking expressions of interest from young people.

In the 2019-22 Council term, an independent member was appointed to the Climate Change Action Committee to provide an intergenerational voice to support decision making. Four water zone committees have youth representatives.

About the independent youth members

Alice Docking

Alice is doing a Master's degree in Planning at Lincoln University having completed a Bachelor of Environmental Management degree (graduating in 2023). She was recognised by the University as a Senior Scholar, third year Future Leader Scholar, and an award-winning project lead focusing on increasing the understanding of Te Ao Māori within the leadership programme and on the wider University campus.

Alice has experience in governance positions, championing female voices as President and Vice-president (2020-2022) of the Golden Z club, a club affiliated with Zonta to empower and support women during their time at Lincoln. She is an executive member of the Lincoln University Planning Association and a recent Lincoln University, New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) Student Representative.

Alice joined our Youth Rōpū in January 2022 as treasurer and representative for Christchurch South. She has been instrumental in advocating for youth representation on Council committees, presenting at several Regional and Strategic Leadership Committee meetings last year.

In 2023, Alice was elected co-chair of the Youth Rōpū.

Alice has been recognised for her exceptional academic record, voluntary service and leadership by Lincoln University, Zonta, the Freemasons, the Clinton Foundation, the Untouched World Foundation, and the Department of Conservation as well as being sponsored to attend the NZPI 2023 conference and the Aspiring Leaders Forum.

Over the 2022/23 summer, Alice undertook work experience at Boffa Miskell on their Te Hīhiri/Cultural Advisory team.

Oscar Bloom

Oscar is a second-year student at the University of Canterbury where he is studying Law and Communications. He is also a part of the University’s Leadership Scholar programme.

Oscar was a founding member of the Youth Rōpū and served on the group from its inception in 2019 until January 2022. He was the inaugural Chairperson and led the first youth submissions on our Long-Term and Annual Plans.

During the 2019-22 triennium, Oscar attended several Regional and Strategic Leadership Committee meetings to present on the Youth Rōpū’s work and advocate for youth representation on water zone committees.

After securing water zone committee representation, Oscar became one of the first youth water zone committee members in the region. He remains a member of the Christchurch West-Melton Water Zone Committee.

In 2021, Oscar was recognised for his service to youth voice by being awarded the supreme prize at the Waitaha-Canterbury Youth Awards.

The Regional Leadership, Climate and Community Resilience Committee

Formed following the October 2022 election, the committee includes all Environment Canterbury councillors and meets four times a year. Its responsibilities include overseeing and informing the development and review of direction, strategies, policies and plans from a climate change and community resilience perspective.