Youth Reference Group out and about

Teina and DanielleTwo members of our Youth Reference Group, Teina Wells-Smith and Danielle Newton, did an excellent job of representing the National Commission in August. Below are the activities they have been involved in.

Nga Rangatahi A Iwi forum

Teina Wells-Smith attended the Nga Rangatahi A Iwi (NRAI) forum. This was part of the Iwi Chairs Forum, which is an opportunity for Māori from different iwi to share information and aspirations around topics of cultural, environmental, social, economic and political development.

NRAI participants are young Māori representatives of their iwi. As part of the day Teina joined a group discussion about Pou Taiao (environment), where they brainstormed ideas around  barriers that prevent rangatahi (young people) from connecting themselves to the environment through kaitiakitanga (guardianship).

Teina says he came away from the day inspired and with invaluable connections to future iwi leaders.

Festival for the Future

Chair Danielle Newton attended the Festival for the Future 2017 at Aotea Centre in Auckland. This conference aimed to connect young innovators and change-makers from across New Zealand and abroad, to develop ideas and skills for re-imagining and creating the future.

The conference was run by Inspiring Stories, and included a range of speaker sessions, panels and workshops addressing topics such as the future of the environment, the development of more diverse and inclusive approaches to learning and education, creative problem solving, start-up social enterprise, and mindfulness and wellbeing.

One of the key messages promoted at the Festival for the Future was around New Zealand being an incubation nation that is fostering a community of global citizens who are acting as catalysts for creating global impact. It emphasised the importance of service, highlighting the ways in which success should be defined in relation to the creation of solutions that matter to humanity. The value of experimentation ran through the different presentations as a means to challenge the status quo and move towards social justice.

Mental health was at the top of the agenda and served as a key theme throughout discussions. Festival for the Future also highlighted the importance of helping people fall in love with nature and experience what it means to be connected with the environment.

Environmental Education for Sustainability Steering Group

Danielle Newton has been serving as the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO representative on the cross-agency Environmental Education for Sustainability Steering Group which helped drive the Strategy and Action Plan for 2017-2021. The primary aim of the group is to identify the best way to foster real impact in environmental education in New Zealand. Danielle remains in contact with the members of the Steering Group, and will continue to aid in the implementation of the Action Plan.


Youth Reference Group members Danielle Newton and Teina Wells-Smith are involved with the organisation PACE 48 as New Zealand Country Coordinators. PACE 48 is a multinational youth-led platform which emerged from the Asia Pacific Youth Dialogue (which Danielle and Teina attended as New Zealand National Commission representatives) with the mission to promote access to cultural education across the Asia Pacific region. Danielle has volunteered to be in charge of an online blog for environmental education and sustainability issues that will be published on the PACE 48 website. She will work on establishing a network of youth, both in New Zealand and internationally, who are keen to be involved with the blog as well as PACE 48 more generally. If you are interested email Danielle on or 021 159 2789.