Participants come together in what is called a ‘Rōpū’ to discuss relevant issues and create statements. Two facilitators educate on these issues and facilitate discussions in a safe environment to create these statements. They are then discussed by all participants in a plenary session, where statements can be amended to further reflect their views and values. All Rōpū statements are then included in the declaration.


Here are the 18 Rōpū topics for AYD 2020:



As New Zealanders we all have an identity which we hold to be of utmost importance. In Equity you will be examining the socioeconomic and legal issues which many of the people of Aotearoa face because of their identities. Possible topics could include: institutional sexism, the legal rights of persons with disabilities and how best the government can assist our LGBTQ+ community. 


Identity and Representation 

Culture and the media shape every aspect of our lives. In Identity and Representation you will consider the state of the culture of New Zealand as a whole and how the media shapes our attitudes towards the world and each other. You’ll consider issues ranging from the representation and portrayal of marginalised groups in media to the rise of fake news. 


Te Ao Māori 

Te Ao Māori denotes the Māori world view, composing both Māori society as a whole and the tangible and intangible aspects of Māori culture. Despite their status as the indigenous people of Aotearoa, Māori continue to face significant challenges in all aspects of society. In this Rōpū you will be examining the place of tangata whenua in modern New Zealand. This may include discussion of the Treaty, the socioeconomic status of Māori and the status of Tikanga Māori and Te Reo in New Zealand.


Rights and Freedoms

How much power should the state have over the lives of its citizens? How much can we accept limitations on our personal freedom in the name of social benefit? In this Rōpū you will consider questions like this as you discuss the broad question of how much the government should be able to restrict the lives of individuals. You will examine these questions through discussing topical issues involving rights and freedoms like freedom of speech, gun rights and immigration. 



In the modern age we have become increasingly aware of how dependent we are on our environment. The Environment Rōpū will discuss a broad range of issues interfacing with our natural environment, including, but not limited to, our responses to climate change, our biodiversity strategy and the management of our natural resources. The Environment Rōpū addresses the centrality of Aotearoa New Zealand’s environment to all that our country does.


Economic Development

The Economic Development Rōpū is all about helping the New Zealand economy be prepared for the future. It looks at structural factors and policies that guide development right across our economy, whether that be tax policy, unemployment, regional development, industry diversification, or workers rights. This Rōpū will look into how New Zealand’s economy can best position itself to capture value, and best structure itself to give expression to our society’s values and desires. You will also consider normative questions about the economy, like how we want to grow and what we want that growth to look like (i.e. inclusive growth).



In the Education Rōpū you will be asking questions about what role we as a society want education to play in developing and securing a future we can all be proud of. You will address a spectrum of educational questions, both broad and narrow. You discuss topics ranging from the content of our curriculum, to the accessibility of further education in our polytechnics, trade training, and universities, to the design of our classrooms and schools of tomorrow.



In Governance you will be looking at the institutions which manage our democracy. Broadly, the Governance Rōpū will discuss constitutional issues surrounding how New Zealand’s government should be structured. This might include discussion of issues like the voting age, the success or lack thereof of our MMP system of voting and whether or not New Zealand should become a republic or adopt a written constitution. 



Hauora is conceptualised broadly as a four pillar model of health: spiritual, mental, physical, and social health. In Aotearoa many of our contemporary societal challenges, whether they be obesity, poor mental health, high suicides, substandard housing, binge drinking and domestic violence, can be conceptualised under the Hauora model. This Rōpū will look at innovative solutions to weave together the challenges and responses we currently have to create a whāriki (woven mat) that can serve as the basis for future responses to these challenges.



In the Healthcare Rōpū you will look at the structures and systems of healthcare in New Zealand. Topics discussed may include developing capacity in our hospitals, designing new programs or treatments to fund and roll out, and so forth. More broadly, you will be encouraged to consider how Kiwis access the healthcare system, and how this access could be made more equitable and accessible. In a country that is growing as fast as New Zealand, the Healthcare Rōpū will be asked to consider how our healthcare system can respond to this growth and ensure that safe, successful and accessible medical treatment is available to all who need it. 


Infrastructure and Transport 

New Zealand’s infrastructure and transport systems are vital areas of our economy and society upon which we all depend everyday. The infrastructure and transport Rōpū will look at how we can develop our key infrastructure systems (our roads, railways, airports, power grids, water, etc.) in a way that enables New Zealand’s growth. You will also examine more general issues, such as the accessibility of infrastructure resources, especially resources like public transport, active transport, electricity and fuel. 



The housing Rōpū will discuss the range of different policy instruments available to respond to the housing crisis gripping much of New Zealand at present. This crisis is not just an unaffordability crisis that is resolved through increasing the supply of new homes, it is a complex issue that encompasses the quality of our homes and rentals, New Zealand’s shameful homelessness epidemic, overcrowding in our homes, poor, earthquake prone building standards and generally unsafe living environments. This Rōpū will look at the range of tools available at the local and national level to address this crisis, exploring not only how we can provide houses for all, but what role and importance having a safe, warm, and dry home has for our society.



The justice Rōpū will consider how we can structure our court system to ensure just outcomes for victims and perpetrators and benefit to New Zealand society as a whole. Issues to be discussed might include the balance between rehabilitation and punishment in the prison system, the extent of police powers and whether our system of criminal sentencing is effective at achieving its goals.


Science and Engineering 

Science and Engineering will broadly discuss how the growth of technology will impact society. This includes the extent to which the government should halt or hinder the growth of technology and to what extent this technological growth will affect New Zealand socially, economically and politically. Potential questions could include: how New Zealand should adapt to an automated workforce, how we should deal with biotechnology and genetic-alteration and how we can protect the privacy of our citizens on the internet.


Social Development 

Social Development concerns the ways our communities can be safer and more inclusive, ensuring we are providing opportunities to all across Aotearoa. In this Rōpū you will discuss our social welfare system of benefits and support payments, assisted employment schemes and community support networks. You might also address the voluntary and not-for-profit sector, developing an understanding of the critical role these organisations play in weaving together New Zealand’s societal kete. This Rōpū will also encompass thematic issues such as the role of the state care system, caring for the elderly and homeless. 


Innovation and Enterprise 

The innovation and enterprise Rōpū is all about how New Zealand can best position itself to take advantage of the knowledge economy and the emergence of high-tech, innovative startups from around the country. In this Rōpū you will discuss issues as varied as developing knowledge and skills for innovation and entrepreneurship, supporting and incubating up and coming kiwi businesses, and developing an ‘innovation economy’. You’ll also be looking at how best we can grow social enterprises. 


Youth Development 

In the Youth Development Rōpū you will discuss issues relating to Rangatahi’s place in Aotearoa, how they interact with wider society and decision makers, and how a Youth-focus leads to different outcomes being emphasised. This Rōpū will look at examples of intergenerational policy effects and how the policies we design for the Youth of today have a disproportionate effect on the New Zealand of tomorrow. However, this Rōpū is not only forward looking, it is empowered to look at structural factors and barriers to youth living a good life in the present, whether that be a lack of opportunities available to our rangatahi, highly stratified ‘Youth experiences’ based on social class and geography, or strategies to aid in the development of disadvantaged youth.


International Relations 

New Zealand has always prided itself on its high standing on the world stage. In this Rōpū you will consider various issues related to how New Zealand should position itself in the international community. You will look at New Zealand’s trade policy and our involvement overseas through humanitarian efforts and foreign aid. You will also discuss our broader strategic position in relation to problems like the growing tensions between America and China. How best can New Zealand balance protecting itself and its allies with standing up for international justice and human rights?