WELCOME TO the final CYNZ newsletter for 2017 - my, hasn't the time flown by? This time last year, we had not even commenced planning for the Common Leaders Day programme - now, we look back over a rather eventful year packed full of events and successes that we can rightly celebrate.
What a year 2016 has been. Of course, the topic on everyone's lips right now is yesterday's announcement that John Key intends to resign as Prime Minister. This has capped off a year of political and social turmoil, and even geological upheaval!

I want to thank Mr Key - he has has championed New Zealand's commitment to the Commonwealth Charter and values such as tolerance, freedom and equality. I also thank him for his support of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, and in particular, the National Student CHOGM Programme. On behalf of CYNZ, I wish Mr Key and his family all the best in their future endeavours and thank him for his service to New Zealand.

No matter your political views, one thing that you must acknowledge is that Mr Key has provided stable and secure leadership for New Zealand during his 8-year tenure. Stability is not something that all countries enjoy - even our closest neighbour, Australia, has cycled through five Prime Ministerships during that time. 

In this uncertain world, we, as people who seek to serve, have much work to do. I urge you to first look inward and grab onto those values you hold dear. I also implore you to look to the Commonwealth Charter and the values enclosed within and rediscover or enhance your purpose, whatever that may be.

Some people are lucky to have purpose and service ingrained in their DNA - you will have seen CYNZ's press release last week congratulating Ashleigh Smith on being named as the 2017 Queen's Young Leader, and Loren Skudder-Hill and Alex Bengree as runners-up. Not only do I congratulate them, but I thank their supporters, families and friends for the constant backing they have given these amazing young people to reach the heights of success.

I also want to acknowledge courage and bravery in our ranks. Over the weekend you may have seen one of our Board members, Paul Foster-Bell, come out as gay on national television (find below a link to the interview) and pledge to use his platform as a Member of Parliament to fight against the homophobic and, frankly, outdated views of people like Brian Tamaki. Thank you, Paul - it's great to have someone speak up for young people on these issues on the national stage.

A note of thanks to my Executive Committee and to the CYNZ Board. 2016 has presented may challenges, but you have all played a huge part in pulling off some amazing successes: running another National Student CHOGM, inspiring a group of young leaders at the Common Leaders Day programme, and championing some awe-inspiring female leaders. Thank you a thousand times over for the passion and dedication you bring to your respective roles.

In the New Year, I hope that many of you reading this will re-engage with CYNZ and our events. 2017 is already shaping up to be even bigger and better than 2016. As part of our drive to get our members engaging with senior international leaders, our events and engagement programme will have a heavy international focus. I can assure you that you will be excited at the announcement!

One event I want to draw your attention to - consider this a 'save the date' - is CYNZ's Annual General Meeting. As this is the third year of our Board cycle, a new Board will be elected by you, the members, at this AGM. The AGM will be held on Wednesday, 29 March in Wellington. All members will be informed of a location and time, and issued with ballot papers closer to the date.

Finally, for those in Wellington, I invite you to join the CYNZ Board and Executive for an end-of-year drink next Monday. Details are below - I look forward to seeing you there to farewell what has been a mixed year for many. You can RSVP here on Facebook, or by sending us an email at

Stay safe over the summer break. I trust you will return in 2017 relaxed, recharged, and even more resilient!


Executive Director 
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand
JOIN US next Monday for our end-of-year function at Foxglove on Wellington's waterfront. A cash bar will operate and nibbles will be served from 5.30pm, and you are welcome join the Board and Executive Committee for dinner following that. We look forward to seeing you there!
PAUL FOSTER-BELL courageously appeared on TVNZ's Q+A programme over the weekend to speak out against homophobia, and how he has used his platform in Parliament to help young people who are questioning their sexuality to fight against damaging homophobic views and behaviour.
CONGRATULATIONS TO Otago student Ashleigh Smith on being named a 2017 Queen's Young Leader. Ashleigh is honoured for her work combatting cyber bullying with her organisation Sticks'n'Stones. Congratulations to Loren Shudder-Hill and Alex Bengree for being named as Runners-Up
MAREK TOWNLEY has recently joined CYNZ as the project lead for Common Leaders Day 2017 and was selected to attend 33Sixty Singapore. Here he shares his amazing experience as part of the programme and talks about building sustainable, safe, and inclusive cities. 
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