South Auckland youth discuss Open Government Partnership

by Fuimaono Tuiasau

TINZ Director

South Auckland youth leaders want to be engaged on issues that affect youth voices, youth participation and representation in the region. This was the key message when Open Government Partnership was discussed at two recent gatherings of South Auckland youth leaders. The Southern Youth Collective made up of youth leaders from Papakura, Franklin, Manurewa, Papatoetoe, Otara and Howick were keenly interested to find out how the OGP processes can support their civic engagements and activities.

Fuimaono Tuiasau, Victoria Taupáau, Sheralee Patea, Star Matavau

On Saturday 24 September New Zealand OGP Expert Advisory Panelist Fuimaono Tuiasau asked the group to answer three critical questions about open government and youth.

  • What are the key issues that face youth in South Auckland?
  • Second, what can be done to address these issues?
  • Who can lead this change?

This section of New Zealand faces high levels of deprivation, poor housing, poor health outcomes, regular incidents of serious crime, high levels of community indebtedness, low academic ratings, high rates of unemployment with a rapidly growing population.

Youth leaders heard from Fuimaono Tuiasau about the principles of OGP and its aims toward building transparent and open government. He noted that government needs to be held accountable to it citizens, particularly youth. The grand challenge of the OGP partnership is for active citizen involvement in all aspects, to drive that accountability. Youth around the world are involved in developing OGP national action plans. These forums are a start for inclusion of young Aucklander's in this process.

Efeso Collins, Chair of the Otara Papatoetoe Board, talked about the importance of youth bravery through challenging the status quo and standing up for principles of fairness. Efeso talked about his experiences of being on the receiving end of prejudice and bias, and how he stood up to it, thereby forcing change.

Fuimaono Tuiasau, Thictyree Gasu, Alexandra Gasu, Ammon Pulu, Efeso Collins with Kaperiela, Luke Ripia, Tuitofa Aloua, Ana Viviani, Zachary Wong, Bryce Collins, Star Matavau  24 September at Otara Manukau meeting

Fuimaono Tuiasau, Thictyree Gasu, Alexandra Gasu, Ammon Pulu, Efeso Collins with Kaperiela, Luke Ripia, Tuitofa Aloua, Ana Viviani, Zachary Wong, Bryce Collins, and Star Matavau at Otara Manukau meeting on 24 September.

Many thought opportunities for regional youth engagements, youth representation and leadership, and youth campaigns on crucial issues, would be important to build youth trust towards, and knowledge of, government and society. The ideas will be included in the OGP national discussions toward national action plans. All South Auckland ideas would be included. The youth leaders were keen to be part of the ongoing dialogue on OGP in New Zealand.

The youth leaders discussed a wide range of topics including the prevalence of youth suicide, its causes and the drastic impact on families and communities, negative stereotyping of youth (especially Maori and Pacific youth), inflexible traditional education and teaching methods of the current educational system. There was robust discussion on climate change and environmental issues, identity issues, youth leadership and representation.

The youth leaders were concerned that civics education was not actively taught or supported to help prepare them for civic responsibilities outside the school environment.

On Friday, 30 September 2016, the collective met again and workshopped the idea of “what the ideal south Auckland could look like in 5 years’ time?” Ideas ranged from actively engaged youth (individuals and groups) in decision making on issues that affected them e.g. health and social issues; teaching and building civics education in schools and in the community that increases youth awareness and participation with other communities and government.

Youth leaders would like to see better education about the functions of government, more opportunities for regional youth engagements, and an increase in youth representation and leadership positions to create trust by government and society by youth.

The youth leaders were keen to be part of the ongoing dialogue on OGP in New Zealand and for any South Auckland ideas to be included. Their ideas will be considered as part of the consultation for New Zealand’s OGP National Action Plan.

South Auckland Youth Collective leaders with Fuimaono Tuiasau at 30 September meeting

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