Ropū Groups

Participants come together in what is called a ‘ropū group’ 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 views of the young people . All ropū groups’ statements are then included in the Declaration.


How we physically live in the world is something we all experience differently, and for most of us, it is a privilege we take for granted. This group will discuss and challenge the society in which we live in and how it provides for those who live with disabilities, the physical infrastructure and the attitude that society has to those that are physically or mentally impaired. This group may look at a need for infrastructure that caters for those that are physically impaired, the education around disabilities and overall accessibility of our communities.


New Zealand’s long isolated biological and geographic history has meant that we are home to some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. Human settlement and the exotic species they bought with them has had a huge impact on our indigenous biodiversity. Biodiversity is not only valuable to our industries and communities but also to the world. This group will look at the biodiversity challenges, threatened ecosystems and the importance of a biodiversity strategy for New Zealand.

Climate Action

Climate change is the greatest environmental threat humanity has ever faced. Despite various global conventions and agreements signed, we are not seeing signs of improvement. Further, climate action has been heavily influenced by industry and Government actions. This ropu will discuss actions that both the private and public sector can take and what those are.

Culture & Diversity:

“He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.” What is the greatest thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people. The people of this land have built a rich history and culture that continues to grow as Aotearoa becomes more enriched by numerous cultures. However, will an increase in diversity comes an increase in discrimination and prejudice. Issues that will be discussed in this ropu include the effects evolving nature of racism, what a representative New Zealand looks like in present-day society as a current issue and accessibility in regards to language, culture and integration rather than assimilation.

Economic Development:

Cryptocurrencies, climate change, changing patterns of immigration. In the face of technological disruption and political instability, the Economic Development focus group will ask: how can the New Zealand economy face the future? How can Aotearoa grow a sustainable economy, a circular economy and thrive internationally? The economy is comprised of all people who purchase and sell New Zealand goods and services, both at home and abroad. The way people behave in this system is shaped by laws and policies, which this focus group will discuss. In previous years this focus group has written about free trade agreements, employer and employee rights, government regulations, and economic and tax policies.


Education is about more than just school. Education is about preparing New Zealand’s rangatahi for the world we live in, present and future. This group looks across the education sector, from early childhood to post-secondary education and will ask questions like: how can education be more accessible in New Zealand? Why do some schools deliver quality education while others don’t? What do you wish you could learn in school?  In what ways can retention be managed in low decile schools?


Fairness and equity of rights are fundamental values that any modern society should strive for. The scope of this Ropu covers issues pertaining to the LGBTQ+ community including bullying against LGBTQ+ youth in schools, limitations in healthcare and opportunity for transgender people, and the discrimination that still runs rampant in society today.

Gender Equality

Gender inequality is an issue that forms the baseline for many other global issues that affect us all in our day-to-day lives. From income inequalities to healthcare, gender disparities are evident and so it is adamant the these underlying issues be addressed. This ropu has a wide range of issues that can be discussed, including issues of accessibility, the importance of intersectionality and the current state of representation of gender minorities.


Governance procedures in Aotearoa were examined by the public last year when 3 parties formed government despite another party having a plurality. Only 10% of the seats in Parliament are from Maori electorates yet 18% of NZ identifies as Maori. Is our government and local government truly representative? Governance encompasses our national institutions including local and central government. Past topics include electoral systems, parliamentary laws and constitutional issues including te Tiriti o Waitangi.


Hauora encompasses the physical, mental emotional, social and spiritual well-being of an individual. In a society where we face fragile mental health, obesity, overcrowded and substandard housing and binge drinking, it is clear not all of our wellbeing needs are being met. The Hauora group will look at ways we can fill these gaps and create healthier and happier communities. In the past this focus group has discussed topics like mental health, nutrition, and health education.


Healthcare differs from Hauora and Youth Wellbeing by looking into the structures and systems of healthcare in New Zealand. Participants will explore how people interact with hospitals, healthcare professionals and other systems such as ACC and ask questions like: do we have the health infrastructure to support our growing populations? How could our DHBs and hospitals more effectively serve our population?


This year, we wanted to give issues pertaining to just Maori people a bigger platform as there are still many things in our society that are yet to be resolved or even addressed. The Heritage ropu aims to discuss exactly what it is named for – the heritage of New Zealand and how it influences us in our own daily lives, policy and the society surrounding us. Issues that can be discussed within this ropu include the relevancy of Te Reo in schools, the lack of New Zealand history being taught in schools, the long-lasting and continual effects of colonisation, and addressing historical grievances regarding Maori.


Previously discussed under Infrastructure and Housing, it is clear that Housing has become a nation-wide issue that needs more focus than it currently does – especially for smaller cities facing huge influxes of people moving in. No longer is the housing crisis limited to Auckland. Cities all across the country are facing issues pertaining to housing including rental quality, standards of living state housing and the future of sustainable living. Housing is an issue that must be addressed sooner rather than later, and it must be addressed with long-term outcomes in mind.

Infrastructure & Transport

This ropu will discuss issues such as the development of our urban centres, transport, provision of utilities and crisis response. Infrastructure and transport impact employment, poverty and wealth, education and healthcare and are, therefore, vital for the prosperity of Aotearoa. You will be discussing transport and infrastructure issues that affect the whole country and coming up with solutions that work for everyone.

International Relations

New Zealand’s work in foreign affairs doesn’t seem to impact everyday domestic life, but it is central to the continued success of our economy. New Zealand’s diplomatic position in the world is unique in that we are a small country, but can have a big voice when we want to. Participants in this focus group will look at New Zealand’s role on the international stage. What are our foreign policy priorities? Where can we have the most influence? Could we play a larger role in the current refugee crisis or as a leader in the Pacific region? Who should our allies be?


This year, the  Justice ropu will focus more on how youth engage with the New Zealand’s justice system through many different facets and will ask whether New Zealand’s justice system is fair and equitable. Issues explored may range from voting rights of prisoners, rehabilitation and the youth justice system.

Media & Representation

Previously known as Media & Communication, this ropu has been changed to allow a shift in focus from how we use media as a means of communication to also incorporate its use of portraying diversity. While discussing the extremely relevant topics such as privacy and ‘fake news’, this ropu will also explore what it means to have positive representation in the media as well as challenging the reporting standards on various societal issues and groups.


The prospects of scientific development within New Zealand come at an exciting time in the world; most notably in space exploration which is something that New Zealand is just scratching the surface of. However, education and communication within this sector remain underdeveloped as many people in our society still feel unaware and uninformed of the scientific advancements made by our government due to a lack of education. This group will discuss where New Zealand currently sits in this regard and whether we are at the right

Social Development

In the 2017 New Zealand General Election, social development issues were in the limelight, such as New Zealand’s social welfare system and superannuation. Social development involves the ways our communities can be safe and inclusive. This group may touch on poverty, state services, domestic violence, student loans, homelessness, disability issues and social housing.

Technology & Innovation

The future of technology is an uncertain future as development and innovation continues to change and is always adapting. However, some developments do have some pressing issues that should be addressed and these are the issues that this ropu will focus on. In particular, these issues are the implications of artificial intelligence, automation of the workforce, and even the continued development of New Zealand’s own space program.

Youth Development

Young people are always told we are the future, but we are also the present. Youth deserve to grow up in a happy, safe and healthy environment. In previous years, this focus group has covered participation in local affairs and empowerment, strategies to aid disadvantaged youth and further issues in youth welfare such as bullying and treatment of youth offenders.

Youth Wellbeing

This group was born out of the need for a greater in-depth discussion surrounding youth. The group will focus on challenges such as child poverty, and the influence of drugs and violence on youth. This ropu will be charged with discussing some of the most important and integral issues facing our society. Be prepared to discuss questions such as: How can we reduce child poverty? How can children with parents in prison be supported better?