What I respect about the youth of today is that they are reasoned thinkers.
Sharon and I have a 21 year old son and a 18 year old Daughter and, like the younger gen I had the privilege of meeting this week, they are intelligent, articulate, deep thinkers. They care deeply about where the world is heading and they have strong opinions about it.
Some of this week, another busy one in tremendous Tauranga, was spent with our youth. It was fundamentally about listening and learning.
I am saddened that some felt like pawns in a political game. It was most certainly not my intention. Unfortunately I can not control what is covered by the media and I agree it would have been great to share the views expressed by the students as that is what I was there to hear at the Youth Leadership Forum at Otumoetai College.
The reality is that I have two white boards from the session filled with their thoughts. And their thoughts are both practical and visionary.
To earn anyone’s respect takes time. Yes, it is an election year and therefore every meeting I have could be viewed sceptically. I hope to demonstrate otherwise.
This is why I have spent time, weeks before local government candidates have to register, to meet and begin productive talks and engagement with people from all sectors across our community. I hope they will see that I am genuine in my resolve to bring a more inclusive, engaged and respectful partnership across our diverse community.
I want again thank our youth leaders from the Colleges who attended the Youth Leadership Forum and also those who are supporting them.
I particularly wanted to thank Dan Allen for inviting me to a ‘Kiwi Can’ session at the Mount Intermediate. Kiwi Can, part of the Graeme Dingle Foundation programmes, sets a firm base of values and life skills that students take with them through school and into later life.
The values written on their classroom wall sums it up perfectly: Integrity, Honesty, Respect, Reliability, Responsibility.
Imagine if we all lived, and loved our neighbour, like that.