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National Young Leaders' Day - Horomia Speech

Hon Parekura Horomia
14 May 2001 SPEECH
NATIONAL YOUNG LEADERS' DAY

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E ngä mana, e ngä reo, e nga rau rangatira mä, tënä koutou katoa. Kia koutou ngä rangatahi, tënä hoki koutou katoa.

I'm truly honoured to be here. Apparently young people were asked to name role models they would like to hear from. On the list were people like Lucy "Xena" Lawless, Todd Blackadder of the All Blacks, Jim Hickey the Weather man, world famous explorer Sir Edmund Hilary, Steven Tindall of the Warehouse to name a few. Well you've drawn the short straw today and got me.

I am a firm believer that the world belongs to young people like you. Old people like me are here to try to make the most of the world's resources for future generations like you and others to come. This responsibility will also fall to you.

In Mäoridom, we have many sayings about handing over the reins to younger leaders. Ka hao te rangatahi - A new net goes fishing. Ara mai rä he tëtëkura - A new leader arises. Before I finish I hope to leave you with a few challenges.

Before then I want to thank the Young Leaders Foundation for organising today. This is a great chance for the leaders of tomorrow to share ideas with each other and also with leaders of today.

Maori population

I'm always mindful of the age pyramid of the Maori population. The 1996 census showed that the average age of Maori was 22 years, compared to 36 years for non-Maori. At that time, 42% of Maori were aged 17 years and under.

I grew up near Tolaga Bay on the east coast. Some of my role models were people like Sir Apirana Ngata, Sir Peter Buck and Sir Maui Pomare. They all greatly influenced education and health initiatives, the development of Mäori land and the survival of Mäori culture to name a few.

Bi-cultural and Muilticultural New Zealand

For many New Zealanders the idea of Mäori culture conjures up images of the haka or carvings. It may also conjure up images of protest and Treaty of Waitangi claims. I can truthfully say it is a living, growing culture in Aotearoa. But it is not reflected throughout every day life in New Zealand. Many New Zealanders have still never been to a marae. Many still mispronounce Maori words even though it is an official language of the nation.

The challenge for the Government, and I think you too because this will not be solves quickly, is how do we ensure that New Zealand reflects the different cultures that live here. Because New Zealand is fast becoming a nation of diverse cultures and we need to work out how we can live together, take the best out of all of our cultures. How are we going to do it?

Leaders

What is a leader? There are all sorts of leaders, across all facets of society: in industry; in the board rooms; in public service agencies; running small businesses - even the role of teaching life skills, and moulding the next generation of leaders.

A Mäori word for leader is "rangatira". Those who are fluent in Maori language will know that it can mean "weaving people" together. This is an essential quality of a good leader.

But leading who? And for whose benefit? It says nothing about their objectives. They could be for purely selfish reasons. Not that there's anything wrong with taking care of yourself. It's just that the type of leadership we are seeking to encourage is the type that contributes to the public good.

Leaders don't need to lead from the front, as a warrior chief into battle. There are much more subtle skills that include listening to people, finding out how they prefer to do things. Including people in the decision-making process, particularly in decisions that will affect them. It requires effective organisational and planning skills, and particularly communication skills. You are the future, and great hopes will be pinned upon you.

Modern Apprenticeships

On to your more immediate future. You have lots of options ahead of you. Some may decide to go on to wananga, university, polytechnic or teachers college. I would also like you consider learning in the workplace as well. There is a scheme called Modern Apprenticeship, which targets young people and encourages them to work in key industries. This year there will increasing apprenticeships in building and construction, diary manufacturing, electricity and electrical, engineering, hospitality, printing, and telecommunications. These are some of the growth areas. So are the sciences.

I mention this because it is important for you to know that learning continues even when you leave the classroom. You will learn organisation skills when you work; you will learn people management skills in your relationships with others, in your sports teams or band or youth group. It is important that you don't underestimate these skills.

Youth Strategy

Adults are always making decisions that impact upon the lives of young people. You have your own view of the world, your own values systems. That's why I want to challenge you to make submissions on the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa. The document, Positive Development of Young People in New Zealand was launched last month by Youth Affairs Minister, Laila Harré.

The Minister wants to know how we, the government and everyone in New Zealand, can better support young people aged 12 to 25. It's not just what adults think. You can make your own decisions and choices. It is very important that young people have their say. You have a month to respond.

Informed Choice

Opportunities like today are simply a chance for you to gather more information to make the right choices for yourself. Making informed choices is most important.

Whether it's about new subjects, new careers or new boyfriends or girlfriends, it's about having the right information to make your decision. I encourage you to keep gathering information.

Assess it often because in this world of IT you will be bombarded with information. But the world is your oyster. Go for it.

Käti ake i könei. Tënä koutou, tena koutou, kia ora tätou katoa.


ENDS

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