New group of youth councillors sworn in

Youth Councillor Chairwoman Olivia PHOTO: STAFF REPORTER

A newly structured Gore District Youth Council will have a greater sense of responsibility, community empowerment co-ordinator Mark McCann says.

“To reflect everyday organisational structures, the youth council has set up a project management group, a communications group and an events management group,” he said at a community strategy meeting last month.

Guest speakers would also be sharing their knowledge and skills with the youth councillors to help them grow into their roles.

Twenty-two youth councillors were sworn in at an online ceremony on Tuesday last week.

This year’s group was more representative of the community, with nine new members from diverse backgrounds, Mr McCann said at the ceremony.

“More community members, a voice for Maori, a voice for newcomers and a voice for people for disabilities.”

Youth council chairwoman Olivia Crawford said she looked forward to making changes that would benefit the future.

“It’s incredible how many people have joined us this year which is really quite amazing.

“I’m just really looking forward to a really awesome year with awesome people.”

Though the ceremony was normally held in-person, Covid-19 concerns had forced it to be held on the online communication platform Zoom.

Parents and teachers were among those who tuned in.

Each youth councillor read a declaration as they were sworn in by Mayor Tracy Hicks.

He said it was a unique opportunity for them to get an insight into how communities worked.

“Things that you can do either individually or corporately as a group to build your community.”

Young people also brought a different perspective to the council, he said.

“For councillors to be exposed to that as they make decisions on what is going to be good for the district is fantastic.”

The four departing youth councillors who served last year were thanked at last month’s community strategy meeting.

Jessica Murray has moved on to university, Jake Kiernan has become a head prefect at Menzies College while Georgie Crowley and Sara Chisholm were focusing on work and their studies.

Mayor Hicks said he hoped their experience on the youth council would serve them well in the future.