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Three youth representatives from Taupo, attended the National Cultural Diversity Forum in Auckland last month.
The forum organised by the Human Rights Commission and supported by the Ministry of Youth Development, brought together individuals and organisations committed to taking action to support cultural diversity and foster harmonious race relations in New Zealand. Taupo District Council provided funding for the three local teenagers to attend the forum.
Chairman of the Taupo Youth Council Anna-Rose Davies said the forum was about finding common ground for different races and religions to live, work and play harmoniously and without discrimination. “I loved the forum and everything it was about.”
Ms Davies said she liked the way the youth were treated. “It was like our voice mattered, it wasn’t just a ‘warm-fuzzy youth perspective’ - we do have important things to say.”
Youth Council member Kristin Van Hees and Café for Youth Health's Extreme Youth Group member Geordie McLachlan also attended the forum alongside Ms Davies and youth participants from around the country. Mr McLachlan said he found the experience mind-opening. “The forum was very effective in getting our beliefs out there into the public”. Ms Van Hees said she enjoyed the new experience of being part of the treaty relationship group at the forum.
Attendees were consulted on issues from a youth perspective relating to cultural diversity, which are to be presented in a report to the United Nations organisation. Other organisations participating in the forum included the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Settling In and the NZ National Commission for UNIESCO, who held a variety of workshops the young people were able to attend.