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Local government engaging with youth

23 July 2014

For immediate release

Local government engaging with youth

Generation Y (those born between 1984 and 2002) are a demographic that have big ideas and a ‘fresh’ perspective, but their representation and engagement with local government has not always reflected this.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) held an in-depth master class session on how councils can engage with youth as part of its conference at Nelson, for specialised council staff, elected members and local government stakeholders.

The session used the expertise and personal experience of young councillors to highlight the ways in which local authorities can engage with their younger residents effectively.

Speakers included Porirua City Council Deputy Mayor Ana Coffey, Dunedin City Council Councillor Jinty MacTavish, Connecting Generations Speaker and Coach Johny O’Donnell, Ministry of Youth Development Manager of Youth Engagement Kathryn Maxwell, Westland District Council Councillor Latham Martin, Rotorua District Council Councillor Tania Tapsell and Generation Zero Auckland Director Dr Sudhvir Singh.

The master class session included a case study examining how the views and work of Generation Zero, a nationwide youth organisation with a view of promoting and enabling the transition to a low-carbon future, fed into the Auckland Unitary Plan.

“This session provided unique insight into generational differences in aspirations and how to engage positively with youth,” LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says.

A strong theme that came through from the session was that young people need to be included right from the start of council processes and not just brought in as a token gesture and late on in the process; this is vital as a way of future proofing our communities.

“Our youth of today are our generation of tomorrow and every issue is a ‘youth issue’. It extends beyond skate parks and graffiti removal projects, it’s also about recognising the importance of intergenerational relationships. We need to retain the institutional wisdom of our more age advanced elected members while also fostering the innovation that youth perspectives provide,” Mr Yule says.

The 2014 LGNZ Conference took place 20-22 July at Nelson, with more than 550 local government delegates attending to take part in master class sessions, hear presentations from high profile speakers about significant issues and opportunities facing the sector. The theme of the conference was Powering Local Economies, Building Vibrant Communities.


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