Young People Declare their Vision for Aotearoa

Press Release – Aotearoa Youth Declaration

Aotearoa Youth Declaration brought together nearly 300 young people from around the country to create a youth vision for Aotearoa.

Over four days in April, young people gathered in Auckland from as far north as Kaitaia and as far south as Invercargill to create a collective youth vision for Aotearoa in a document called The Youth Declaration. High school student participants discussed the biggest challenges they face in society and recommended solutions for policymakers, organisations and business to address them.

Event coordinator Victoria Rhodes-Carlin says “young people are not disengaged, apathetic or lazy. They are passionate, informed and driven to make a difference for the future of our country. However, these young people are not adequately engaged in decision-making processes in Aotearoa. We ran the Aotearoa Youth Declaration to equip students with tools to make themselves heard.”

Participants worked in sixteen different focus groups ranging from Economic Development to Environment, Justice to Healthcare. Workshops over the conference created space for students to have conversations they can’t have in the school curriculum, including on civics education, tikanga Maori and identity and privilege in Aotearoa.

Education Officer Esme Hall says, “attending Youth Declaration as a high schooler was the first time I got asked what I really think about issues in New Zealand and someone listened. It made me feel like I could make a difference as a young person.”

The participants benefit from the presence of inspiring people and organisations over the conference. Several MPs were at the event including Minister for Youth Peeni Henare, Minister for Children and Associate Minister for Education Tracey Martin, MP Nikki Kaye, MP Chris Bishop and MP David Seymour. Organisations such as KiwiHarvest, Re:News, Auckland Council, Sustainable Coastlines, City Mission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took students into their organisations to show them how they’re working in the community.

Following the conference, students have taken the policy solutions from the Declaration back into their communities.

Aotearoa Youth Declaration has been run by UN Youth New Zealand for nine years. UN Youth NZ is a by-youth-for-youth organisation dedicated to inspiring global citizenship.

Past Youth Declarations have informed government decisions on a range of issues, including the age of foster care which was changed from 18 to 19 after the 2015 Youth Declaration.

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