New UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leaders announced for 2023

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO has appointed three new members to its UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leaders group. They are Isaac Morunga, Rana Arif and Te Aho Jordan.

Isaac Morunga

Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa

“UNESCO’s founding vision of being relentless in the pursuit of peace through intellectual and moral solidarity of humanity, resonates now more than ever before. Collectively, we all have the power to create ripples in the spaces we occupy and the kaupapa of a UNESCO Aotearoa Youth Leader aligns with my passion to speak to the pillars of education, science, and culture to further global peace and enable others to thrive in the various spaces they reside,” says Isaac.

Isaac Morunga is a Sales Excellence Manager for Microsoft Australia & New Zealand. Alongside this, Isaac currently serves as the Global Chapter Lead for Indigenous at Microsoft Employee Resource Group (ERG) – overseeing the organisations Indigenous ERG Chapters in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Pasifika Network. Isaac is one of the youngest ERG Leadership Team members across Microsoft globally.

Isaac’s driven by a goal to uplift and extend the ladder of opportunity that he’s been afforded in his tenure, to others – with a particular focus on Indigenous communities and those more broadly from underrepresented or marginalised communities.

“I love homing in on opportunities that enable me to advocate and scale-out impact at numerous tables of influence to bring about genuine and sustainable change for the communities I am situated in - locally and abroad.”

Isaac is a graduate of the University of Auckland and holds a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts. Through his studies, Isaac was provided with opportunities to dabble in demography research and statistics education; he mentored fellow peers in various programs and held positions in external executive committees as the youngest council elect.

Rana Arif

Rana is an Iraqi Syrian young wāhine born in Aotearoa and raised in the Emirates. She recently graduated from the University of Waikato double majoring in Human Development and Human Resources.

Rana is passionate about Community and Youth Development especially when it comes to the Ethnic and Muslim community.

“Being a young person is not just about your age, it’s about finding your purpose and setting the foundations to what your future might look like. This is why I dedicate a lot of my work to the rangatahi of our community as it’s such an important stage in one’s life. Sometimes all they need is a mentor in their lives, I try to provide a listening ear and simply be there for them”

The projects she has been involved in contribute to creating safe spaces for rangatahi to thrive, Te Tiriti mahi, and serving her Muslim community. This year Rana has been named one of the Y25 which brings together 25 of our rising trailblazers each year.

“I do what I do to give back to the community that is serving me”

Te Aho Jordan

I taku taha ure tārewa, he mokopuna awau nō Tumoanakotoreiwhakairiaoratia.

I taku taha māreikura, he mokopuna awau nō Materoa.

He wiwi, he naati, he whanokē. Ko Ngati Porou te iwi.

He hononga anō ki Sāmoa i Savai’i.

Te Aho is excited to engage with UNESCO, seeing many opportunities to advocate for marginalised stories and to give their voices a platform. They believe that many young people shy away from kaupapa like UNESCO without realising their lived experiences provide valuable insight and solutions to the many issues explored in this work.

Te Aho is a passionate, self-taught visual storyteller. Their work elevates and celebrates identities that they connect to, indigenous, Māori, Pasifika and takatāpui.

Te Aho has work featured in an array of kaupapa such as the One Percent Collective, National Geographic Photo Camps, Foto Femme United, Kauae Raro Research Collective and He Kakano Ahau Podcast. They are a member of international databases, Indigenous Photograph and Women Photograph.

Te Aho has just completed their second year studying towards a Bachelor of Humanities with Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. Te Aho has been growing a career in youth development since 2018 taking on roles as a youth mentor for various NGOs, volunteer initiatives and recently within the public sector.

Chair and Deputy Chair

The group also has a new chair with current Deputy Chair Sabrina Manū taking over from Ethan Jerome-Leota. As Special Advisor – Youth Sabrina will attend all National Commission meetings and provide advice to the National Commission on how to engage young people in UNESCO’s work programmes.

In supporting the mahi of the Chair, Adriana Bird has been appointed to the role as the Deputy Chair.

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