Happy New Year! I hope you were able to take time over the summer break to recharge for 2016.
This is a momentous year for the Commonwealth. After a number of agreements were reached - the Paris Agreement, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the targets set at CHOGM last year to combat extremism and climate change, the Commonwealth must ensure that it stays at the forefront of advocacy.
In April, Baroness Scotland will be formally appointed as the Commonwealth's Secretary-General, and with a new face will come a new, strong voice for our organisation. The strength of the Commonwealth lies in inclusiveness and respect for all - I am certain that by being seen - both perceived and in practice - as a good global leader, the Commonwealth will be able to achieve a much-needed refresh while continuing to uphold the principals set out in the Commonwealth Charter.
Another thing the Commonwealth must do is innovate and find new ways to educate people about what it stands for and why it is important. This year, innovation is a key theme for Commonwealth Youth New Zealand. While we will still provide the National Student CHOGM Programme we will also run the inaugural Common Leaders Day initiative on 14 March - Commonwealth Day. Participants will also be immersed in a range of workshops that will be aimed at teaching them practical skills they can use to define and enhance their personal leadership style. They'll also learn about the importance and purpose of the Commonwealth and its values in an ever-changing world.
On the note of important dates, I would be grateful if you could mark in your dairy that on Monday, 21 March, we will hold our Annual General Meeting in Wellington. Details will be confirmed closer to the date.
In the coming weeks, keep and eye on our social media channels as we announce who we and Common Purpose have selected to represent New Zealand at 33Sixty Glasgow. This follows on from the hugely successful 33Sixty Malta in November 2015.
With kind regards,
Aaron Hape Executive Director
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand
'An Inclusive Commonwealth' - the 2016 Commonwealth Theme
The Commonwealth theme for 2016 is ‘An Inclusive Commonwealth’, in recognition of the values and diversity of the Commonwealth and its 53 member countries and peoples.
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “An Inclusive Commonwealth refers to the values of tolerance, respect and understanding, as well as equity and fairness, set out in the Commonwealth Charter, and the richness of the Commonwealth as a family of nations in which each member state is valued equally and has an equal voice."
Commonwealth Secretary-General’s New Year Greeting
In his final New Year message, outgoing Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, looked back on two major agreements reached in 2015, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. He hoped that we will implement and begin living by those decisions in 2016, and reinforced the need for the Commonwealth to continue to be an advocate for those who struggle to have their voices heard on the international stage.
The Queen's Young Leaders Award
In December it was announced that Brad Olsen and Valentino Wichman were named as Queen's Young Leaders award winners for New Zealand and the Cook Islands respectively.
Brad, 18, is an advocate for young people. He spent four years on the Whangarei District Council Youth Advisory Group, where he offered advice on policies which affect young people, and is a Youth Ambassador for UNICEF NZ, providing views around children's rights. He has also volunteered with Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, to raise awareness of the Commonwealth. At the age of 17, Brad helped to set up a free healthcare clinic for young people in Whangarei. He also works with the National Youth Advisory Group, advising government departments and NGOs about issues ranging from mental health to education.
Valentino, 28, supports LGBTQI rights in the Cook Islands and is Secretary of the Te Tiara Association. After helping to draft the Cook Islands Youth Policy, she wants to spend the year as a Queen’s Young Leader working with policy makers to bring LGBQTI legislation into line with that of New Zealand and to develop support services for the LGBQTI community in the Cook Islands. In addition Valentino plays a key role in other community groups, including The Cook Islands Prostate Foundation and the Rotaract Club of Rarotonga, which offers young people aged 18 to 30 the chance to make a difference in their neighbourhood.
Congratulations to Brad and Valentino on their achievement. CYNZ member, Caitlin Smart, must also be congratulated on being named as New Zealand's only runner up.
Common Leaders Day 2016
The Common Leaders Day programme brings together a range of inspiring young leaders in community, government, national and international fields and shows senior high school students that everyday people can become outstanding leaders.
Participants will also be immersed in a range of workshops that will be aimed at teaching them practical skills they can use to define and enhance their personal leadership style. They'll also learn about the importance and purpose of the Commonwealth and its values in an ever-changing world.
Our 2016 programme will run on Monday, 14 March 2016 and will coincide with Commonwealth Day. Participants will also be invited to attend and participate in the Commonwealth Day National Observance at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul and a reception at Parliament.
WHEN: Monday, 14 March 2016 WHERE: St Andrew's on The Terrace function centre, Wellington