Urged to consider youth

Southland's regional council has been challenged to up its game and engage with those who will one day pay the rates.

Presenting to the council as part of its long-term plan (LTP) hearing earlier this week , 17-year-old Liam Calder implored the organisation to consider youth as part of its LTP deliberations.

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He said he represented all rangatahi who were unable to voice their concerns, pointing out all other councils in the region included a youth voice.

"Think of the submissions you’ve heard and seen today, what is the general age of the submitters?

"To ensure young people stay in Southland when they grow up, why not engage with them on their issues, in their region, on problems that will affect them in their lifetimes?", Liam said.

He admitted it was a tall order for Environment Southland to get around the 82 schools he counted in the region.

But he did have some ideas from his experience as a member of Invercargill City Council’s youth council.

That included keeping information digestible, through avenues such as pocket-sized LTP information, which broke down key points.

"Southland has such a rich and diverse range of people living in it.

‘‘Don’t solely focus on the ratepayers; we will be the ratepayers one day," Liam told councillors.

"Teach us, but more importantly, show us the plans for our future. It is time to bridge the gap between the suits and the students."

As part of his written submission, he proposed Environment Southland adopt either a youth reference group or youth council.

The submission was met positively. Chairwoman Nicol Horrell said it was "quite refreshing" to hear a youth view.

— Matthew Rosenberg, Local Democracy Reporter

— LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.