What is Aotearoa Youth Declaration?
Aotearoa Youth Declaration is UN Youth’s flagship civic education conference. We gather participants age 13-18 (Years 9-13) from all over Aotearoa to write the Youth Declaration, which represents a youth perspective on public policy. During the conference, participants work in targeted Rōpū (groups) to create policy solutions on a broad range of problems. Each Rōpū examines one or two issues in Aotearoa, such as access to voting, child poverty, or Te Reo in schools. Each Rōpū contributes a solution to their issue, and these solutions comprise the Aotearoa Youth Declaration document. The Aotearoa Youth Declaration document is passed on to decision-makers (MPs, local Councils and Boards, and influential people) to help them decide what decisions to make.
What is UN Youth?
We are a non-profit organisation that provides civics education outside the traditional classroom context. Through fun workshops and conferences, we engage youth in the most pressing affairs of their country and the international community. Our goal is to inspire young New Zealanders to be active citizens. Global citizenship exists in an incredibly diverse range of forms, and UN Youth provides opportunities for rangatahi to develop their own form of active citizenship. Throughout Aotearoa, our work equips young people to become informed, engaged, and critical New Zealanders who understand their global context and the connections between the local and the global. Annually, over 3000 young New Zealanders from Northland to Southland attend a UN Youth event, run by a body of 150 volunteers across the country who dedicate many hours of their time to engaging young people and growing the organisation.
Why come to Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2020?
- Engage in collaborative discussions to develop a deeper understanding of issues.
- Develop creative, practical solutions to a topic of interest to them.
- Be challenged to tackle the largest social, economic and cultural issues in Aotearoa.
- Develop a better understanding of Aotearoa and the world.
- Learn valuable skills such as active citizenship, communication, and teamwork.
- Have an amazing, formative experience and make lifelong friends.
What happens at the conference?
Rōpū: Participants are placed in groups of 14-18 that will focus on a specific issue, like Healthcare, Economic Development, Youth Development, or Science & Engineering (there are 18 different groups!). Rōpū get to know each other through ice-breakers and working together. They develop solutions by gaining knowledge and sharing ideas.
Outreach: To give participants insight into real issues and solutions, they visit an organization that works in a relevant area. In the past, participants have done a beach clean up, toured Ministries and Councils, and volunteered at a food rescue organisation.
Industry speakers: An expert industry speaker will be able to discuss a different aspect of their Rōpū topic and give different ideas to participants.
Workshops: Participants attend workshops on the topics of Identity (identities, privilege, and oppression), Tikanga (encompassing Tikanga and Te Tiriti o Waitangi), Civics (Aotearoa’s political processes), Regional Action (community development), and Active Citizenship (how to turn your power into action).
The social evening: A fun time for participants to get to know others, have nibbles, do some dancing, and take some nice photos with their friends.
We are committed to representing a diverse range of rangatahi, but we also know that the cost of the conference is a barrier to some participants. Therefore, there are a range of scholarships for participants attending Aotearoa Youth Declaration, including scholarships for students from outside of Auckland to attend on Regional Delegation. We also encourage participants to apply for funding for their conference fee from local organisations that support youth, such as Rotary, Lions, or others.
There is a regional delegation program for participants from outside Auckland. Participants who apply and are selected for Regional Delegation will pay an extra fee (or apply for a scholarship to cover this fee) and will have accommodation organised by the Regional Delegation. These participants stay with trained volunteers in a central location and are provided with breakfast and dinner (lunch is at the conference). Participants will be met at the Airport or at their bus by our Regional Delegation volunteers.
Role of the Youth Declaration and the Conference
As a culmination of the opinions, ideas and passions of young New Zealanders, the Youth Declaration is sent to Members of Parliament, local government bodies, NGOs, businesses, sponsors and other decision makers.
In 2019, the conference focused on empowering rangatahi to be active citizens in their communities by giving them the tools and confidence to do so. Participants not only explored the challenges Aotearoa faces and create solutions, they also gained new understandings of what it means to be a young person in Aotearoa. Workshops explored identity, privilege, oppression, civic processes and tikanga principles.
By using the Declaration as a tool, young New Zealanders are shown how to engage with their elected representatives, make submissions and foster change in their communities.
We aim to make our conference accessible to all participants, so if you have accessibility needs, we will do our best to accommodate those. Please let us know how we can help you!
What have previous participants said about Aotearoa Youth Declaration?
“What an amazing conference! Thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to be more involved with my community.”
“What you put in you get out!”
“One of the best experiences of my life!”
“Aotearoa Youth Declaration is one of the best experiences of my life. Everyone is so passionate and I am extremely inspired to do great things.”
“It was such an incredible experience, and I feel like I have found my place. I felt safe, respected, and accelerated. Thank you.”