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Tackling tomorrow’s challenges

Wednesday 4th August 2010

In the piece below, Fale Andrew Lesa, our Nkabomer from New Zealand, expounds upon the prevailing perceptions of youth. 


“To tackle the challenges of tomorrow, young people need political capital today…” 

The image of youth in regard to conflict is a challenging one; it is dependent on the context, the socio-economic status, on education and so forth. For most young people from NZ, conflict is most common either at home, school or within the greater community. Young people are usually victims of family violence, perpetrators of school-yard bullying and youth-gang violence – but also agents of peace through school leadership teams, community youth councils and initiatives such as SAVE NZ (Students Against Violence Everywhere) and SADD (Students Against Drink-Driving).

Youth activism and advocacy in New Zealand is more or less healthy. The Ministry of Youth Development has sufficient resources to support youth initiatives; youth councils are active in almost every district in the country, and every three years, the government hosts a National Youth Parliament. At the UN, New Zealand has a youth wing: the UNYANZ. A number of non-profit organizations also promote and provide for youth empowerment. Young people are also active in the youth sectors of the mainstream political parties and a host of other youth-oriented activities are also recognized with a sense of accomplishment and pride.

In terms of my own political activism; it all started in 2007. I was seventeen and I was elected to attend the 2007 NZ Youth Parliament on behalf of my local electorate. This was the needle within the haystack that secured my future in youth empowerment and political engagement. I realised the potential that youth leadership contained, and I acknowledged the shortfalls within the current state of affairs (young people were not being consulted or engaged). This state of mind, acquired from youth parliament, encouraged me to push for the establishment of a local youth council within my home district (previously dormant) and provided me with an informal framework for advocacy and representation. I went on to conquer a number of great initiatives, I owe all of this to the eye-opener that was the New Zealand Youth Parliament – gone, but never forgotten.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Fale Andrew Lesa permalink
    Friday 6th August 2010 6:09 am

    I should also add that I am more than happy to provide further feedback on the current state of NZ youth empowerment; should a fellow Nkabomer require this.

    In Solidarity

    Fale Andrew Lesa
    Aotearoa, New Zealand.

  2. A.D.D. permalink
    Tuesday 10th August 2010 11:16 am

    Hi Fale- thanks for the interesting post. Your clear passion for the importance of youth activism is really impressive. But would you agree that such youth engagement initiatives as those that exist in New Zealand are, at the moment, something that is limited to those countries that have the luxury of larger budgets for such activities? It’s unfortunate, but I don’t know if you’d see such proactive youth engagement in many of the countries of the Commonwealth. Or perhaps the stress should be on grassroots engagement projects- there is no need for government sanction?

  3. Fale Andrew Lesa permalink
    Tuesday 10th August 2010 11:28 pm

    Hello A.D.D.

    You raise a very thought-provoking issue; does the size of a government budget determine the success of a particular portfolio? I would probably agree. Financial resources are essential in this day and age, money is therefore power and liberation. A resource that can break down barriers is often your most important.
    Although, in New Zealand, it isn’t necessarily the government alone that funds youth empowerment initiatives. A number of semi-private and private organisations are also active resource providers in this area of affairs, and are also essential for the foundation of this field. Your reference to grass-roots engagement is interesting, but it can not be sustained without appropriate financial support (eventually it will loose steam).

    Ultimately, I would argue, that financial resources are necessary to sustain progress and to empower youth leadership. Although there are valid international case studies that beg to differ.

    I guess from a “Western” perspective; I can not imagine New Zealand youth prevailing over social and political storms without the support and sustainability that has been provided by both the public and private sectors (often in partnership).

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