Four young leaders from Do Good Feel Good (DGFG) will attend the Aotearoa Youth Declaration Conference in Auckland this month.
The UN Youth event is the organisation’s flagship civics education conference and involves around 200 students. The aim is to equip participating youth from all across Aotearoa with a deeper understanding of their place within their community and the ways they can actively contribute to it. Participants are guided by facilitators in small groups (focus groups), each centered around a different policy area. Over the four days, the participants will join in workshops, visit various businesses and organisations, as well as hear from industry experts to further engage with their chosen topic.
Do Good Feel Good, which sits under Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura is an initiative that helps young people to make a difference in their own neighbourhood. The group is made up of young people ranging from the ages of (15-24) living in Mangere.
DGFG Youth Mobiliser, Chillion Sanerivi says ACIT was initially approached by Treasury who were acting on behalf of UN Youth NZ requesting for contacts who work alongside Pasifika young people in South Auckland.
“The organisation wanted to have more pasifika youth representatives from South Auckland at the conference. After we received the invitation, we met as a group and introduced the idea to our leaders and asked who would be interested,” says Chillion.
He says four young people put up their hands. They are 17-year-old Hetta Larissa from McAuley High school, brothers 15-year-old Logan and 17-year-old, Isaak Samoa who go to Mangere College and Southern Cross Campus student, 17-year-old, Usufono Fepulea’i.
The boys are in the youth development focus group, while Heta will participate in the media and communications focus group.
“It’s all part of a process to give young people a chance to have their voices heard,” says Sanerivi.
He says it’s something that the young people are really looking forward to.
“I wanted to do this because there aren’t many opportunities for Pacific youth to have a voice,” says Isaak Samoa.
His brother Logan agrees.
“Sometimes, we don’t tend to step out of our comfort zone so this is a place where we want to be heard.”
Larissa says it’s scary putting yourself forward but you have to back yourself and represent your home and know your 'why'?
“My 'why' is my family and going against the stereotypes and breaking negative perceptions of Pacific people. My aim is that when my nephews and nieces grow up they will be more confident to break those stereotypes.”
Fepulea’i says this conference will give young Pacific people a voice.
“Your voice is your power and I want to use this opportunity to make a difference for my family and to stand up for my culture.”
At the end of the conference, the young people will develop policy recommendations on the issues and areas most important to them. These will be collected in the Youth Declaration – a document that represents the youth voice and will be presented to Government.
Chillion Sanerivi says the DGFG leaders want to also use this opportunity to get experience and explore the idea of hosting a youth conference in South Auckland to inform policy development. The insights from their experience would help co-design what this could potentially look like.