Ministerial Youth Advisory Group

Learn about the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group and its members for 2021.

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  • Young people
  • Parents, caregivers and whānau
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Teachers and kaiako
  • Community organisations

Children and young people are at the heart of our education system. They have a right to participate, be heard and have their opinions considered in decisions that affect them.

Purpose of the Youth Advisory Group

  • A way for New Zealand youth to share their experiences and perspectives on education with the Minister of Education.
  • Members bring their insights to the Ministry of Education to help inform how we work and improve the education system.

Meet the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group

New Youth Advisory Group members for 2021

 Caelan YAG

Caelan Harris
17, Hamilton

Hello, my name is Caelan and I am 17. I live just outside of Hamilton on a large lifestyle block with my family of 5. I have been home educated from the age of 6 and I believe this will give me a unique point of view to contribute to YAG.

I also have battled with Juvenile Arthritis for most of my growing up years, which has built in me maturity, compassion and empathy. I am heavily involved within the swimming and Para Sporting community, training competitively with Hamilton Aquatics, working as a Learn to Swim Instructor and I have also recently qualified as a pool Lifeguard. Through the St John Youth Program, I have had many opportunities to learn new leadership skills and have been able to put them into practice through volunteering at my local Christian camp during the holidays as a leader.

I am currently in a part-time internship program with Authentic Media and am planning a career in Graphic Design and Marketing.

 Daisy YAG

Daisy Tumataroa
16, Taumarunui

Ko Ruapehu te maunga
Ko Makotuku te awa
Ko Aotea te waka
Ko Raetihi te tūrangawaewae
Ko Te Puke me Mangamingi ngā marae
Ko Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi me Ngāti Rangi me Uenuku ngā iwi
Ko Daisy Tumataroa tōku ingoa

Kia ora, my name is Daisy Jae Tumataroa and I am a Year 12 student attending Taumarunui High School. I am a prefect and the student representative of our school board.

I was born and raised in small-town Raetihi in the central North Island near Mount Ruapehu. I am a curious person who enjoys obtaining new knowledge from pretty much anything. I have a passion for using my voice and fighting for what's right. I have a strong belief that education is the key to empowering people.

At Taumarunui High School we employ an innovative big picture learning model and I am excited to put forth new ideas and opinions for the future improvement of our educational system.

I am so thankful and blessed for the opportunity that has been given to me as a member of the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group and I look forward to the achievements of our team in 2021.

 Jayden YAG

Jayden van Dyk
14, Hamilton

Hi, my name is Jayden van Dyk. I'm 14 and I live in Hamilton.

I have been fortunate enough to have attended a small rural high-decile primary school and a low-decile small middle school in the city where I was deputy head boy. In 2021, I am starting the much larger Fairfield College as a Year 11 student.

I have an ultra-rare genetic disorder KBG syndrome that has meant I have needed specialist support in education at different times. But I've never let that be an excuse not to fully participate in everything and sports is my equaliser where I'm just like any other 14-year-old boy.

I believe my experiences in different types of schooling will allow me to be an asset to the Youth Advisory Group and I look forward to being able to have an impact.


Rei Denee
17, Wellington

My name is Rei, I'll be joining the YAG for 2021. I am a trans, autistic, disabled young person who highly values education and community. I'm happy to be contributing to discussions that can further the support for people like me in our schools. 

While I am very passionate about learning I have consistently struggled with and been let down by the education systems in place, and I'm really hoping to help create a flexible school environment where everyone has the opportunity to grow and be reliably supported.

I am so grateful for an opportunity like the Youth Advisory Group to help build a better learning environment for the young people who really need it and look forward to being able to use my voice for change in 2021.

Other Youth Advisory Group members

 Harlow Tran-Lawrence, 16, Taranaki

Harlow Tran-Lawrence
16, Taranaki 

My name is Harlow Tran-Lawrence, in 2021 I will be a Year 13 at Spotswood College in Taranaki. I'm a young, brown, queer person with a diverse background and a passion for change-making and speaking out.

In 2021 I'm excited to be a deputy prefect at my school and work towards more inclusivity and activist movements in areas like the LGBT+ community and issues, mental health, POC and BIPOC challenges as well as many others.

I've had the privilege to be a part of the Ministerial Youth Advisory Group in 2020 and I am incredibly looking forward to working with both the old and new members in 2021. 

 Fine Aholelei, 18, Auckland

Fine Aholelei
18, Auckland

Ko e ‘Otua mo Tonga ko hoku Tofi’a – God and Tonga are my inheritance.

Mālo e lelei, my name is Fine Na’akakala Daphne ‘E Moala Aholelei. I’m 18 years of age, born and raised in East Auckland, and am a proud descendant from the villages of Ha’Ateiho and Sopu, Kolomotu’a (the Kingdom of Tonga).

In 2021, I will be a first-year student at the University of Auckland studying a conjoint degree of a Bachelor of Arts in Pacific Studies and a Bachelor of Law. I’m a founding member of Southside-based collective 4 Tha Kulture, a member of Tāmaki Youth Council, and a member of the YouthLaw Youth Advisory Group.

I hold strong beliefs in ensuring my actions as an individual aid my community in our collective goal. In saying this, my role on the Youth Advisory Group is to ensure my lived experiences as a Pasifika female within the education system are heard and can hopefully influence policy and change. It’s so important that our voices are being actively amplified, especially in spaces that often leave us behind, so I will always prioritise ensuring coming Pasifika generations have a more enhanced experience of the education system than my own. 

 Tanin Cain, 15, Auckland

Tanin Cain
15, Auckland

Hi, my name is Tanin and I'm 15 years old. I enjoy drawing and want to be a game developer. This is my second year in the YAG. I joined because I want to help people learn in a way that is right for them.

I struggled to find the right school setting for me – high decile/low decile, accelerant/mainstream, withdrawal/extension, but MindPlus was the game-changer for me. They understood how I learnt best, how to support and extend my love of learning. They taught in a way that was right for me and I want others to have a way that is right for them too. 

I've extended myself further through homeschooling over the past four years and start NCEA through Te Kura in 2021.

I look forward to what this year will bring and to contributing in the YAG once more.

 Tara Shepherd, 18, Dunedin

Tara Shepherd
18, Westport

Kia ora, my name is Tara Shepherd. I am 18 and I’m enthusiastic about the ever-evolving education system.

In 2021 I will begin my Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts majoring in Education, minoring in Environmental Management and Politics at Otago University. Being a part of the Youth Advisory Group inspired me further to undertake this degree with a great passion for making effective change in areas of governance.

I originate from Westport where I attended Buller High School. Because it is a smaller school, I was able to complete some subjects by correspondence as they were not offered onsite. I use assistive technology for my learning and am honoured to be in my second year as part of the Youth Advisory Group team where I hope to continue making valuable contributions to assist all students in Aotearoa. In 2020, I felt privileged to be able to offer insights on distance learning during the year of COVID disruptions and look forward to working with the team again.

 Maru Taiaki, Paraparaumu

Maru Taiaki
17, Paraparaumu

Ko Tokomaru tōku waka
Ko Kapakapanui ko Tararua ōku tūpuna mounga
Ka ngahae ngā pī, ko Waikanae tōku awa
Ko Te Atiawa tōku iwi
Ko Waikanae tōku marae
Ko Whakarongotai tōku whare
Ko Maru Taiaki ahau e mihi ana

Tēnā koutou katoa.

Kia ora, my name is Maru Taiaki, of Te Atiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Kurī, Ngāti Whātua and Te Atihaunui-ā-Pāpārangi descent. 

Born and raised on the Kāpiti Coast, I am a student at Hato Pāora College. As a graduate of Māori-medium and English-medium education I am passionate about every young person enjoying education and achieving success, especially for Māori.

I enjoy all sports, speaking and learning te reo Māori and performing kapa haka. 

'Whāia Te Tika, Do what is right'
Hato Pāora College motto

 Raiyan Azmi, 18, Wellington

Raiyan Azmi
18, Hamilton

Kia ora and as salaamu alaykum. My name is Raiyan Azmi. I'm a proud Kiwi-Muslim, born and raised in Hamilton. In 2021, I will be a first-year student at Victoria University of Wellington. 

In recent times, I was Head Boy for 2020 at Hillcrest High School, and a group leader as part of Waikato Akhi Initiative, a regional Muslim male youth group. I've also been selected this year to be an Aotearoa Youth Leader as part of the New Zealand Commission for UNESCO, which should bring a whole new range of opportunities to learn, grow and prosper.

I enjoy bringing the perspectives of a Kiwi-Muslim to the table. I'm proud of my cultural and religious values which encourages a great sense of belonging. It is important for me to represent my whanau so that they (Muslim, migrant and refugee communities) get a chance to speak up and contribute towards the education system they need. Social cohesion and tolerance are important values in a country like New Zealand, which makes having this platform to speak truthfully of our experiences that much more valuable. I look forward to 2021 as part of the YAG. 

Ma'a salaama.

Okirano Tilaia, 18, Christchurch

Okirano Tilaia
18, Christchurch

Malo le soifua maua ma le lagi e mama, o lo’u igoa o Okirano Tilaia.

I’m 18 years of age, of Samoan descent, and was born and raised in the beautiful garden city of Christchurch. Like many Pasifika young people, as I look to stand and hold this space of advocacy and empowerment, I come not alone, but with a village: my identity is made up of warriors, leaders, changemakers, and ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Currently, I’m a student at the University of Canterbury completing a BA majoring in Political Science and Human Services, and minoring in sociology. I have been fortunate and humbled to have been given many opportunities throughout the last few years to advocate, empower, and take action on a local, national, and international platform. Specifically, in the Pasifika space, I have the privilege of being the vice-chair of PYLAT (Pacific Youth Leadership And Transformation) which is a charitable trust that looks to empower and encourage Pasifika young people to participate in all worlds especially in the democracy realm. I also hold positions and roles on several boards, advisory groups, and organisations where I have been able to effectively hold decision-makers to account and ensure that the Pasifika perspective and realities are taken into consideration in all the decisions that are made.

We are not the leaders of tomorrow, but the leaders of today and it’s time that we hold our own spaces to talanoa, speak our truths, and own our success because we do stand on shoulders of giants. Ultimately, my vision in this space is to create equitable opportunities for our Pasifika learners and their families so that we rise up in whatever pathway of success we choose and we further strengthen our village and strengthen our own shoulders so that we can be the foundation and cornerstone for the generations to come.

Moeka Koyama, 16, Tasman

Moeka Koyama
16, Motueka

Kia ora, my name is Moeka Koyama and I will be a Year 12 at Motueka High School in sunny Tasman.

I was born in London to Japanese parents. I have moved around places allowing me to experience a diverse range of education from home-schooling, state schools to Rudolf Steiner schools.

The experiences of changing schools and coming into New Zealand as an immigrant made me understand how big education is part of someone’s life because the schools I went to and go to today have had pivotal roles in shaping me as a young person in today’s world.

This makes me appreciate the importance of the education system to each of us and I feel very privileged to be part of the 2021 YAG to keep on giving my voice and to make new connections.


Find out about the Youth Advisory Group expectations and responsibilities

Advisory Group terms of reference

Further information

If you have questions about the Youth Advisory Group email:


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