Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has paid a special visit to a group of young people from the East Coast who have been hand-picked as potential leaders.
Ardern says, “Those young people are at the forefront of some of those challenges we need to face- I want to hear directly from them on what they'd like us to be doing.”
Rebekah Raihania has been chosen by Labour MP Meka Whaitiri as her Youth MP for the Youth Parliament.
“Getting opportunities like meeting the prime minister, being involved in current issues and having your say as a young person is really important because it's going to be our future,” says Raihania.
The East Coast Youth Advisory Council, selected by Labour MP Kiritapu Allan, are also discussing issues relevant to the youth of today.
Youth Advisory Council member Te Waikamihi Lambert hopes to address “mental health affecting youth in this world- for us to be able to give our solutions to the adults, for them to hear the voices of the youth from our towns.”
The Tairāwhiti Youth Advisory Council say youth voices need to be heard at a decision-making level.
Lambert says, “We want to create a culture where it's okay to talk to each other and we want to create a safe space where all the youth can bring their ideas forward to the table and hopefully make our voice be heard."
“No one knows what it is like to be a young person in 2018- they do, and we need that leadership, particularly on issues like youth suicide, like environmental issues, like all of the things that I've had raised with me today” says Ardern.
The prime minister says that, rather than recognising rangatahi as ‘leaders of tomorrow’, there is a need to empower them to be leaders of today.