Young Elected Members’ hui strengthens connections

13 December 2023

Last week LGNZ’s Young Elected Members' hui, hosted by the Far North District Council, brought together around 50 young leaders from across the motu. It was an invaluable opportunity for YEMs to forge relationships, develop more skills and tools to support them to be high-performing members of their councils and leaders of their communities, and collectively advance the YEM kaupapa.

A jam-packed three days started with a mihi whakatau and cultural experience in the birthplace of Aotearoa New Zealand, Hokianga, before everyone visited Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park – an amazing example of local government, central government, private and mana whenua partnership. The next day our YEMs gathered at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, learnt more about Aotearoa New Zealand's history, and got to work developing their kaupapa and vision. This was also a great opportunity for all our first-time YEMs (of whom there are many this term) to gain a greater understanding of the YEM network. Following this we had an inspiring panel on leadership and wellbeing, featuring our President Sam Broughton, Dame Jenny Shipley, former Far North youth councillor and Kerikeri High head boy Joe Howells, and former Black Fern and now women's rugby coach Rawinia Everitt.

Day three featured a masterclass on engaging communities with LGNZ’s Chief Advisor Ranjani Ponnuchetty, team-building exercises, and a great panel and workshop with Creative NZ and other arts organisations. This explored the importance of investing in arts and culture as one way to support good outcomes for communities, and touched on some great examples of localism in action.

After a wrap-up and reflections, we then had a final dinner over at Kororareka, heard from mana whenua about that settlement’s official name change, and had a hilarious session on leadership and embracing opportunities with former All Black Eric Rush. Finally, Mayor Moko Tepania and the YEM Committee posthumously awarded Te Māhuri o te Tau, Young Elected Member of the Year, to Louis Rāpihana, former Ōpōtiki District Councillor and YEM, who sadly passed away earlier this year.

A big thank you to Far North District Council for hosting us and to the YEM Committee for their help organising the event. It was a brilliant few days filled with laughter and learning – but don’t take our word for it.