Rangitahi collaborate on our biggest threats

Our Youth Rōpū members are feeling inspired and well-connected after their recent trip to Wellington to attend a leadership and innovation conference.

Run by Inspiring Stories and hosted at the newly opened Tākina, Wellington Convention Centre, Festival for the Future focused on unlocking attendees' potential and helping them to imagine a brighter future, which they will be the leaders of.

Attended by 23 mayors, youth councils from every region of the country, and a huge line-up of inspiring leaders from business and not-for-profit sectors, the festival was a chance to learn and network.

Co-Chair of the Youth Rōpū, Stacey Te Pohue Rose, loved the opportunity to meet other young leaders and reconnect with colleagues from his time as a Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor.

"It was great to see everyone again and meet new, up-and-coming leaders. Myself and some of the other youth council chairs have already set up a platform on social media where we are going to stay in touch, share ideas and challenges, and generally keep the kōrero going," he said.

While in Wellington, the Youth Rōpū attended a networking event for youth councils hosted by the Wellington City Youth Council in their Council chambers.

Rōpū member and year 13 student Poppy Johnston-Coates was interested in hearing how other youth councils did things.

"We all operate so differently, but we have a lot in common too, like our passion for making the world a better place. It was great to share ideas with other youth councils, there is so much that we can all learn from each other."

Connections, solutions, and friendships

Another highlight of the trip was visiting Parliament and being addressed by the Minister for Climate, James Shaw.

"I loved the chance to visit Parliament and hear from some of our country's current leaders," said 16-year-old Rōpū member Shelby Allan.

"I have an interest in politics and would like to study environmental law, so this was a really great opportunity to learn more about that space."

Our Lead Advisor for Youth Education and Engagement, Kimberley Forbes, works with the Youth Rōpū and was happy to support their desire to connect with other youth councils across the country.

"This is the first time our Youth Rōpū has travelled outside of the region, and it was wonderful to see them representing Waitaha Canterbury so proudly. The friendships they have made with other passionate youth leaders are so special, professionally and personally, and will serve them in both senses now and into the future."

Kimberley said that the value of young people coming together like this will have an immeasurable impact for years to come.

"Young people in Aotearoa understand the issues that we are facing as a country and are often more open to working together on them than people with more experience in the working world. If we can support young people to collaborate on the solutions to our biggest threats, we will all have a bright future to look forward to."

Our Youth Rōpū is a group of 16 people aged between 14 and 24 who are enthusiastic about the environment, civics and empowering young people across Waitaha.