These holidays, rather than chilling at the beach or hitting the shops, 39 high school students were ready to change the world – or at least the water – at the Young Leaders Programme in Manukau.
Organised by Auckland Council Sustainable Schools’ team in partnership with the Manukau Harbour Forum, the Department of Conservation and Kowhai Olsen from Makaurau Marae, the programme supported Auckland’s young sustainability leaders in taking action with the Manukau Harbour.
Learning about Manukau Harbour
The three-day forum based at Te Manukanuka o Hoturoa Marae brought together young leaders from across the region to learn about issues facing the Manukau Harbour.
The forum's highlights included visiting Watercare’s Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant and hitching a ride with Auckland Airport Rescue’s hovercraft to check out the harbour’s unique marine environment. Plus, they gained a vital, cultural perspective from the marae that contributed to their understanding of the health of the harbour.
The young leaders made a big splash by snorkelling at Goat Island and Matheson Bay in order to see the difference between a marine reserve and a non-protected marine environment.
Manukau Harbour Forum supported the students in generating ideas and actions to improve the harbour.
Now, the Sustainable Schools’ team will help the students develop these ideas and their environmental efforts through a year-long mentoring programme. This includes joining further workshops, strengthening the students' leadership skills, teaching them how to pitch projects, connecting them with other environmental enthusiasts and setting them up to mentor another cohort next year.
Bridget Glasgow, Sustainable Schools Team Manager, says it was exciting to see a passionate younger generation come together and look to the future.
“You could see them realising what young people can achieve and how much power they have as a group,” she says.
“There was such a diverse range of ideas: lobbying to make Manukau Harbour a marine reserve, investigating the consequences of septic tanks, tree planting, running marine community events – and they were so innovative and enthusiastic. We got the loveliest email saying the programme was the best thing they’d ever done!”
“It’s wonderful to be able to offer young people opportunities like this and watch them grow their leadership capabilities to make a difference.”