In May, the New Zealand Government held the first ever Youth Week Awards. Hundreds of nominations were received from across the country in recognition of volunteer work in all aspects of society, but only 24 were named as winners in the categories of 'Change Maker', 'Leadership', 'Giving Back', and 'Working for Youth'. It was my honour to be named as an inaugural winner of the Leadership award.
At the award ceremony I was struck, not only by the amazing work that was being recognised, but by the fact that a lot of this inspirational work had previously gone uncelebrated. Everyone who was nominated - whether they were successful in winning an award or not - should be extremely proud of their work.
National Student CHOGM 2014 is rapidly approaching. As of today there are only 48 days remaining until delegates converge on Parliament to begin their two-day deliberations. My thanks go to the Student CHOGM Planning Committee for all the work they have put in so far in organising this massive event.
In the coming days you will notice that new branding and a fresh logo will be rolled out across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and everywhere else that we appear. The designer describes the logo as a combination of a flame and a leaf - the flame representing youthful enthusiasm, while the leaf represents development and hope - a very apt description and embodiment of CYNZ's values and principles.
Aaron Hape Executive Director
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand
National Student CHOGM 2014
Delegations from schools across the country are being confirmed every day in the build-up to National Student CHOGM 2014. There are still a few places left, and nominations for the role of Secretary-General are still open. If you or someone you know is interested in attending as a delegate or an observer, you can register your expression of interest here.
Discussions with UK Parliamentary delegation
On 29 May, 20 members of CYNZ had the opportunity to meet with a visiting delegation from the UK Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The delegation, here in New Zealand on a week-long study tour, had previously met with the Speaker of the New Zealand Parliament, a range of MPs, and senior civil servants.
The roundtable was co-chaired by CYNZ Executive Director, Aaron Hape, and UK CPA delegation leader, The Rt Hon. Lord McNally. Discussions ranged from how young people view the Commonwealth, to how young people could have their views heard better in an ever-connected world, to if and why New Zealand should change its national flag.
This past month has seen some important elections across the Commonwealth. In Malawi Joyce Banda, southern Africa's first female head of state, defended her position against 10 other candidates, whilst South Africa saw the African National Congress hold onto power for the fifth time since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.
The largest elections in history took place in India, with the Bharatiya Janata Party winning an outright majority for the first time in the Lok Sabha, displacing the Congress Party which has ruled for over three decades. Narendra Modi was sworn in as Prime Minister, on promises of economic growth and tackling corruption.
In a blog post, the Royal Commonwealth Society argues that as the largest country in the Commonwealth, India should be looked to as a leader not only on sustainable economic growth and development, but also on civil, political and cultural rights.
In a guest blog, RCS Asia regional coordinator, Shivani Pasrich outlines the change she thinks this election will cause in India and across the Commonwealth.
Youth Week Award recipients announced
Youth Week 2014 was held from 17 to 25 May. The week was full of engaging and informative activities throughout the country,led by organistions and by young people themselves all with one common theme 'Be the Change'.
This year, the first ever Youth Week Awards were held. Young leaders were acknowledged for their significant contributions in their communities in order to recognise their work, and to inspire others.
$2.5m in Budget 2014 for youth enterprise initiatives
The New Zealand Government has allocated $2.5m over three years to support youth social enterprise.
This announcement by the Minister of Youth Affairs, The Hon. Nikki Kaye, gives youth the opportunity to bring about social and environmental change in their communities, through entrepreneurship.
At an event at Tawa College Wellington on 22 May, the Prime Minister, The Rt Hon. John Key, expressed his interest in having youth, "build up knowledge and capability and take this into the workplace".
Speaking to the young people Minister Kaye said "we are keen to support Youth Social Enterprise as it will help to give young people the education, skills and confidence to succeed in life."
An example of a young enterprise product is the award winning Orange and Ginger Jam made by Orchard Originals, which is part of the Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme. This team won the 2013 Young Enterprise Scheme Dragons Den Competition.
Minister Kaye wants to see more young people creating businesses with broader social, as well as environmental benefits.