Engaging our future leaders

Last Thursday morning, Priority One’s Instep programme had our third Instep Young Leaders’ Business Breakfast, where students connected with local leaders while enjoying a stunning sunrise from Mt Maunganui Surf Lifesaving Club.

The goal of the business breakfasts is to support students to network with local businesses and organisations. This helps them develop their networking and leadership skills while learning about the many opportunities available to them in the region. For this council-lead breakfast, the morning’s activities were co-designed and co-delivered with three of our returning Instep Young Leaders: Jack Muir, Tauranga Boys’ College, paired with Tauranga City Council, Erina Islam, Tauranga Girls’ College, paired with Bay of Plenty Regional Council, and Abby Duncan, Otumoetai College, paired with Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Students were briefed on their participation in three mock council meetings, each representing the different councils. The group were given a practical experience of leading in a local government context rather than just talking about it.

This exercise allowed young leaders to experience decision-making in a council setting. Each student received an envelope containing their roles for the meetings, ranging from councillors to the Mayor and members of the public making submissions.

The mock council meetings aimed to build the students’ knowledge of how councils work, what councils do, and how mayors and councillors lead through governance. To enhance this experience, BOPRC Councillor Kat McMillan shared her firsthand experience as a councillor and her leadership journey and offered tips on effective leadership.

First meeting: Tauranga City Council (TCC)

The first mock meeting, hosted by Tauranga City Council, focused on the proposed alcohol licensing bylaw. With Jane Barnett, a Policy Analyst, and Sam Kemp, Team Leader for Alcohol Licensing, serving as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), the students discussed and evaluated the best approaches to the bylaw. This policy is an actual recommendation that TCC staff are preparing to present to the council later this year.

Second meeting: Western Bay of Plenty Council (WBOPDC)

The second session, led by the Western Bay of Plenty Council, addressed the draft minerals strategy for New Zealand through 2024. Syed Qadari, a Consents Officer, provided expertise during this session. As the meeting progressed, students became more confident, asking relevant questions and engaging deeply with the topic. This issue, though not currently addressed at a council level, is a real and significant national concern chosen for its environmental relevance.

Final meeting: Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC)

The final meeting, hosted by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, dealt with a hypothetical biosecurity risk in Pilot Bay. Romany Prevette-Stanway, a Biosecurity Dive Technician, and Steph Bathgate, a Biosecurity Officer, led the discussion. By this point, the students were fully engaged, debating the cost and risk implications of the biosecurity scenario. This hypothetical issue is likely to arise in the near future, providing a realistic scenario for the students.

To create an authentic council setting, the students received an agenda pack in advance of the meeting, which included proposals and papers for each agenda item. These documents outlined the issues, provided options, and recommended preferred solutions. The council staff who prepared these papers were present to discuss their proposals, followed by the Mayor and the student “council” asking questions, debating options, and making decisions on which options to adopt.

Throughout these sessions, it was encouraging to see the students become more vocal and confident in expressing their opinions and asking critical questions. By the end of the third meeting, they were actively shaping the discussions, considering relevant iwi involvement, and making their voices heard.

The breakfast concluded with a note of appreciation for the students’ contributions. It was also mentioned that the views and opinions discussed during these sessions would be presented to the future councillors once elected, highlighting the value of their input.

This business breakfast provided a valuable learning experience for all involved. The young leaders, received positive feedback and it set the stage for a future where their voices are valued, they are informed and have the ability to engaged with the region’s officials and make the region a place they can continue to live, work, learn and play in.

We’d like to thank the councils for creating an in-depth and valuable exchange of knowledge, innovation, and possibility that has already had an impact on our young leaders. Thank you also to our sponsors TECTBayTrustThe Lion FoundationBay of Plenty Education Trust And to our partners: Tauranga City CouncilBay of Plenty Regional CouncilWestern Bay of Plenty District CouncilThe University of WaikatoToi Ohomai Institute of Technology

And to our secondary schools: ACG Tauranga, Aquinas College, Otumoetai College, Bethlehem College, Katikati College, Mount Maunganui College, Tauranga Boys’ College, Tauranga Girls’ College, Te Wharekura o Mauao, Papamoa College, and Te Puke High School.