Ministerial Youth Advisory Group

The Ministerial Youth Advisory Group gives young people aged 14-18 the chance to have their say about education in New Zealand. Applications are now closed.

Applications for the Youth Advisory Group have now closed – keep an eye on our website to find out who the new members are for 2020.




The purpose of the Youth Advisory Group is to:

  • provide an opportunity for New Zealand youth to voice their own experiences and perspectives on education
  • inform the Minister of Education on aspects of the education system and how these affect the children and young people who use the system
  • bring your insights to the Ministry of Education and the education sector to help inform how we work.

To be join the Youth Advisory Group you'll need to:

  • be aged between 14 and 18 years on 1 January 2020
  •  live in New Zealand 
  • be respectful of other people's opinions
  • get parental, caregiver or legal guardian consent if you are not an independent youth.

7 reasons why you should get involved

  • Registration is easy. It takes five minutes to sign up for the Youth Advisory Group.
  • You will meet other young people who also want to make a difference.
  • Your perspectives will be shared with the education agencies – so your ideas could make a difference.
  • It won’t cost you anything.
  • We will cover the cost of flights and accommodation expenses during your stay.
  • There will be plenty of yummy food.
  •  It will look good on your CV

What will be expected of you

  • To attend four meetings a year with the first one in February. Each meeting will be held over two days.
  • To share your ideas and lived experiences.
  • Be willing to listen to others.

What's involved in being a member

The Terms of Reference set out the expectations, responsibilities, membership, appointment process and operation of the Youth Advisory Group.

Youth Advisory Group Terms of Reference (external link)

They also include role descriptions for the Secretariat, Facilitator and Members.

Annex 1: Role descriptions for the YAG Secretariat, Facilitator and Members (external link)

Meet the 2019 Youth Advisory Group

Adrienne Hunt, 14, Whanganui

Adrienna Hunt, 14, Whanganui

I am 14 years old and I am from Whanganui. I attend Whanganui High School. I’ve been in Oranga Tamariki’s care for the last year and a half and before that I was in and out of care for 2 years. I look forward to having the opportunity to be a voice for youth and be a part of hopefully making a difference.

Moeka Koyamo, Motueks

Moeka Koyama, 14, Motueka

Tēnā koutou. My name is Moeka Koyama, 14 years old and a student at Motueka High School in sunny Tasman.

I was born in London, but my parents are Japanese. I have lived in New Zealand for 7 years. My mother tongue is Japanese.

One of my biggest challenges as an international student at first was overcoming the language differences and now as a fluent English speaker, I would like to see education being accessible to everyone, without any language barriers.

I have extensive experience in leadership roles. From being a student council member at school to assisting with outdoor education camps and leading the cello section for the local youth orchestra, I enjoy challenges and working as a team.

I am looking forward to meeting new people, bringing my skills and perspective to the 2019 advisory group and through learning and sharing having an input in to our education system.

 Shaneel Lai, South Auckland

Shaneel Lal, 19, South Auckland

I was born in Fiji and at the age of 14, I moved to New Zealand with my family. I was very excited, moving from a little village in Fiji to the largest city of New Zealand. In my time in New Zealand, I have been an active member of my community through service.

Being a Pacific Islander, I feel that it is vital that the voices of young people from my community are heard during the policy making and that our culture is incorporated in the system and respected in society. Slowly but surely, Pasifika youth are becoming a minority group within the education system and it is easy for the youth to fall out of the loop holes.

I joined the Youth Advisory Group to ensure that a Pasifika perspective is available, to share my experiences and make a change to the education system so that it works for all. I will be able to continue this work through my role as the 2019 Youth MP for Manukau East.

Since early childhood, I have known that I don’t conform to the heteronormative structure of society, but I have also known that non-conformity challenges the traditional conventions that are forced onto the minorities that exist today. Being able to learn about other people and their experience has allowed me to be open minded and even understand parts of me. I have a keen interest in advocating for the LGBTQIA+ youth; debating why 'gay is okay’ and ‘trans rights are human rights.’

My growth comes from being educated and that is why I strongly believe that all learners should have the right and access to quality education regardless of their background. However, as an international student, my dreams are being snatched away from me every day. While my fees are incredibly high, there is a serious lack of financial support available to me as an international student. I find myself juggling between the passion to advance myself in the education system but having multiple financial constraints.

My long-term goal in life is to be happy and I derive my happiness from the happiness of my community. This significantly has influenced my career choice. There is a serious lack of Pasifika people in areas such as Engineering which means there is also a lack of role models for Pasifika youth who want to build a career in these areas. I want to be able to give back to my community by being a role model for young Pasifika people, by sending the message that it is possible to do what you’ve set your mind to regardless of how you’ve been stereotyped.

Liam McLeavey, 18, Palmerston North

Liam McLeavey, 18, Palmerston North

Kia ora tātou
Ko Tararua te maunga
Ko Ohau te awa
Ko Massey University te whare wānanga
No Levin ahau
Ko Liam McLeavey tōku ingoa

Hi, my name is Liam McLeavey, I am 18 and about to embark on a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Social Policy and Politics at Massey University.

I am extremely excited to have been given the opportunity to serve on the Youth Advisory Group again in 2019. 2018 was a busy year in education, which means for us, the YAG had lots to say and we will again in 2019!

I was born and bred in the mighty Horowhenua. I bring the perspective of growing up and being educated in a rural community, and the challenges associated with that. I also previously have been on a Board of Trustees, that was a massive learning curve and I now understand the inner workings of how schools operate.

In my community of Horowhenua, we have significant issues surrounding youth participation in education, training and employment. I established an initiative called Pathways Horowhenua which aims to bridge the gap between education and employment. It is important that we have an environment in Horowhenua that our young people know they can have a great future and be proud of the pathway that they choose. Lots more to come in this space!

I look forward to coming back down to Wellington this year and playing a role in improving New Zealand’s education system for all.

Okirano Tilaia, Christchurch

Okirano Tilaia, 17, Christchurch

Talofa lava, my name is Okirano (but everyone calls me Oki), and I’m 17 years old. I live in Christchurch and am a Year 13 at Cashmere High School; I’m fortunate enough to be appointed the role of 2019 Head Boy at Cashmere High School.

I am of Samoan decent and I cherish every part of my Pacific roots, as I believe if a student has a strong sense of belonging, they are more likely to succeed in all aspects of their lives including the education system. I enjoy playing basketball and have had the opportunity to represent my school, Canterbury, and New Zealand.

In school, I love history and developing a spectrum of perspectives about past historic events. More importantly, I have a passion to help people locally and internationally; a value I have learnt from my supporting parents. I want Pacific youth to have a voice in the New Zealand education system to succeed and have the freedom to express themselves. Fa’afetai lava!

Geniqua Samupo, West Auckland

Geniqua Samupo, 17, West Auckland

Fakalofa lahi atu and greetings to all!

My name is Geniqua Samupo. I am eighteen years old and have love for my Niuean heritage. I was born and raised in Auckland with two younger brothers who also share the same love and passion for our Niuean heritage.

This year I will be studying at Auckland University of Technology’s city campus which was a goal I had set to achieve in 2019. To be able to return for another year as a Youth Advisory Member is an honour and privilege.

I can’t wait to see what this year will have to offer.

Brodie Cross, Christchurch

Brodie Cross, 18, Christchurch

Kia ora tātou. My name is Brodie Cross. I’m a Year 13 student at Te Kura o Te Aho Pounamu and joined YAG in 2018 with the intention to share my perspective and challenges as a student with impairments.

This year, I will continue to give insights in that area and look forward to resuming my position to ensure Aotearoa has an inclusive education system for all children and young people.

Nathan Farr, Dunedin

Nathan Farr, 17, Dunedin

Kia ora, I’m Nathan Farr. I was born in Tāmaki Makaurau and went to a school in South Auckland, then moved to Ōtepoti. I am 17 years old and attend King’s High School.

I have a huge interest in the way the education system operates and the best way possible for students to be able to achieve their personal best. I want to provide the perspective of someone who has experienced a wide range of teaching styles and the perspective of someone who has a learning difficulty. 
I have had experience in many different local groups, national groups and I want to take the skills I have learnt from them and use them to help have a constructive conservation around the education system and how it can best meet the needs of the students who use it daily.

I have a huge passion for the wellbeing of other young people and how their wellbeing can be supported through a well-structured system that puts the quality of the content above the quantity of the content that students are being taught. As well as the number of assessments that students need to do. I hope to have a positive impact on the education system through my role on the Youth Advisory Group.

Hadassah Wharawhara, 18, Auckland

Hadassah Wharawhara, 18, Auckland

Ko Kawa te maunga
Ko Waikato te awa
Ko Tainui te waka
Ko Tainui tōku iwi
Ko Ngāti Haua tōku hapū
Ko Tau Whare tōku marae
Ko Hadassah Wharawhara tōku ingoa

Kia Ora, My name is Hadassah Wharawhara and I am of Māori and Samoan descent. I was born in Wellington and raised in the beautiful Bay of Islands. I graduated from high school in 2018 and am continuing my studies at AUT this year doing a BHs Nursing. I am currently working part time as a Rangatahi Cadet (HCA) for Waitemata DHB at Waitakere Hospital. My hobbies include kapa haka, sports and baking. I am very much looking forward to what 2019 brings.

Costa Blackman, 17, Tolaga Bay

Costa Blackman, 17, Tolaga Bay

Ka titiro whakarunga au ki tōku maunga tipuna a Tītīrangi
E pa ana ki te maunga tapu a Hikurangi.
Ka rongo au i nga wairere o tōku awa a Ūawa-nui-a-Ruamatua
E waiata ana ki te awa tapu a Waiapu.

He uri ahau no Hauiti, no Porourangi.
Ko Costa Blackman tōku ingoa.
Tēnā koutou katoa.

My name is Costa Blackman. I am 17 years old.

I speak both Te Reo Māori and English, and attend Tolaga Bay Area School and Kahukuranui.

Kate Morris, Darfield

Kate Morris, 17, Darfield

Hey! My name is Kate, I'm 17, and I'm in my final year at Darfield High School in Canterbury. At school I love studying French and History, and outside of school I work at the local bakery and do musical theatre.

This year I'm lucky enough to be in the Press Gallery for the 2019 Youth Parliament, which I'm super excited about. Being in the Youth Advisory Group last year was an incredible experience, and I'm really looking forward to this coming year.

Watene Campbell, 17, Wellington

Watene Campbell, 17, Wellington

Kia ora, my name is Watene Moana Campbell, I’m 17 years old currently studying part time at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna and Victoria University.

At this stage of my life, I’ve found a strong passion towards making a change for the betterment of my people and culture in any way I can. I enjoy making genuine relationships and connecting with people by sharing meaningful conversations. Later in life I hope to pursue a career where I can continue to voice my opinions on a national scale such as being a news reporter, lawyer, or sneaking in somewhere in Parliament. 
Tēnei te mihi atu nei.


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