The Youth Declaration 2017

Te Whakaputanga o te Rangatahi

The Youth Declaration is a collection of statements from 200 young New Zealanders expressing their views on a number of important issues facing them today. Developed and written solely by participants at our four-day civics education conference – Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2017 – this Declaration represents the largest and most representative collective youth voice in the country. The Declaration now passes on to decision-makers, change-makers and influencers across Aotearoa to be heard and implemented.

Participants were divided into 14 focus groups and wrote 6 – 8 statements in those groups. Every statement in the final Youth Declaration was collectively reviewed and approved by all 200 participants. Each group chose a top statement that sets out their view on what they believe to be the most pressing issue facing their focus group topic: these 14 statements are presented below. Follow the links to read more from each group or view and download the complete Youth Declaration 2017.

Culture & Heritage

1.1 We believe that the tikanga principle of manaakitanga, caring for others, should underlie all economic policy decisions. This principle should not be exclusive and should be used to promote equity in New Zealand’s economy. We work best when we work together and help everybody out regardless of their economic background. It is imperative that we are conscious that everyone has a role to play in making New Zealand a cohesive economic unit.

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Economic Development

2.1 We believe that the tikanga principle of manaakitanga, caring for others, should underlie all economic policy decisions. This principle should not be exclusive and should be used to promote equity in New Zealand’s economy. We work best when we work together and help everybody out regardless of their economic background. It is imperative that we are conscious that everyone has a role to play in making New Zealand a cohesive economic unit.

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Education

3.1 We believe that the current decile system is ineffective in solving the issues of inequity in the New Zealand education system. We recommend that an alternative scheme be introduced, similar to Targeted at Risk Funding (TARF) proposed by the current Minister of Education. We would expand the qualifying criteria to include all students​ ​from​ ​low​ ​socio-economic​ ​backgrounds.

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Environment

4.1 As youth, we have the greatest stake in ensuring intergenerational equity be upheld. We acknowledge the effort New Zealand is already making to combat climate change. However, given the urgency of the issue, we are concerned that not enough is being done and that our targets lack ambition.

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Equity

5.1 We believe that there is currently not enough reliable information that allows us to fully support the needs of Aotearoa New Zealand’s diverse society. We would like to see more in-depth information gathering about minority communities. In particular, we would like more recognition of people with disabilities and LGBTQIA+ people.

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Foreign Affairs

6.1 We value the effort towards moral foreign policy. We place great importance on New Zealand as a multicultural nation. New Zealand has demonstrated strength in moral policy by taking strong stances on controversial issues, such as nuclear policy. We hope to see a continuation of moral foreign policies based on the unique key values held by our nation, particularly respecting both our own and other cultures. We emphasise that moral foreign policy and national interest are not mutually exclusive.

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Governance

7.1 We recommend legal supremacy for the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. We further recommend the entrenchment of the Act so it is unable to be repealed or amended unless one of the following conditions is met:

  1. A 75% majority in the House of Representatives;
  2. A majority of voters in a electoral referendum.

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Hauora

8.1 We believe the Government should take a holistic approach to hauora, considering all aspects of te whare tapa wha model. This includes targeting the social determinants of health which have a profound impact on the health status of populations in Aotearoa, especially in relation to low socioeconomic and minority groups.

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Infrastructure & Civil Defence

9.1 We are concerned that over 30% of Aotearoa New Zealand’s population resides in Auckland alone, resulting in overpopulation and a strain on infrastructure. Other regions consequently suffer economic and cultural stagnation. We see a need for the Government to continually explore options to develop business and skilled industries in order to attract and redirect the influx of people towards other regions.

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Law & Order

10.1 Currently in Aotearoa, terminally ill people who are suffering are unable to die with dignity on their own terms. As a result of this, doctors are unable to legally assist, resulting in many patients taking their own lives without mitigation of pain. Therefore, we encourage the Government to pass the current End of Life Choice Bill.

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Media & Communications

11.1 We believe New Zealand’s media has a responsibility to provide the public with reliable, accurate information. We ask for New Zealand media to deliver news that provides unbiased, legitimately-sourced information and represents a variety of perspectives for the strength of our democracy.

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Science & Innovation

12.1 We understand that science, as a subject, is not introduced early enough to students in schools, resulting in rushed and inadequate science education. Therefore, we ask for the Ministry of Education to mandate schools educating Year 7 and above to adopt frequent science education (five or more hours a week). This will create a higher quality science education for the population and more scientifically literate citizens.

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Social Development

13.1 We acknowledge that homelessness is a critical issue prevalent in Aotearoa that requires long-term, sustainable solutions, not short-term measures. We appreciate the recent steps the Government has taken in addressing the issue, however, we are alarmed by a lack of cohesive progress between the Government and relevant NGOs. We strongly urge the establishment of a collaborative National Strategy to combat this issue, including, but not limited to:

  1. Launching a national inquiry to collect data surveying the issue;
  2. Prioritising the use of the Housing First model; and
  3. Ratifying Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which recognises a person’s fundamental right to adequate housing.

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Youth Development

14.1 We implore the Government to enforce and endorse the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with particular emphasis on Articles 42 and 12; the Government is obligated to promote the convention to make it known to all educators, children, and parents, and young people’s voices should be respected, valued, and taken into account when adults are making decisions that affect them.

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