"Youth in Local Government Conference
    Rotorua, 21-23 May 2002

    report from Jan Francis,
    Executive Officer of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs


    Prior to the Spirit of Youth Conference twelve Mayors, one Deputy Mayor and one Councillor met to share ideas and discuss the progress of the Taskforce.

    Currently there are 42 Mayors involved in the Taskforce (56% of all Mayors), and many had sent their apologies and best wishes for the gathering.

    Key themes from the Mayors sharing of local experiences were:

  • A general sense of optimism and collective spirit
  • Partnerships and collaborative strategies are beginning to have an impact locally
  • Skill shortages
  • Poor literacy and numeracy in some communities
  • A need to lift incomes overall
  • The need to strive for sustainable growth
  • A need to increase opportunities and particularly adequately paid jobs
  • A need to creatively address the Maori and Pacific Island unemployment rates
  • The need to encourage government agencies to take risks and then stand beside them
  • The need to get political parties to pick up the Taskforce goals
  • The Mayors also discussed and adopted in principle the 2002 – 2003 strategy, which will be produced and distributed by the end of June.


    Following the Mayors' Taskforce meeting the Mayors attended the powhiri for the Spirit of Youth Conference and many participated in the conference over the following two days.

    The Mayors Taskforce participated in the opening session of the Conference with a keynote address by Vivian Hutchinson, the community adviser to the Taskforce and Mayor Garry Moore (Christchurch) the Taskforce Chair assisting Mayor Grahame Hall (Rotorua) in welcoming delegates to the conference.

    Vivian’s paper is available at http://www.jobsletter.org.nz/vivian/spirit02.htm.

    The conference was the second Youth in Local Government conference and was well attended by Mayors, Councillors, local government staff and central government agencies with a youth focus. Around 40% of those who attended were young people.

    The Mayors Taskforce presented two workshops at the conference.

    The first focused on the Taskforce itself with presentations from Mayors Graeme Ramsey (Kaipara), Yvonne Sharp (The Far North), Sukhi Turner (Dunedin) and Frana Cardno (Southland) who all outlined what they were doing in their local communities. They also stressed the importance of the collaborative function of the Taskforce and the value of partnerships, which had been forged through the Taskforce, to their communities. The workshop attracted a lot of interest with young people, councillors and staff attending. Contact the Mayors involved for more information on their local initiatives.

    The second workshop focussed on projects funded by the Employment Catalyst Fund which is Tindall Foundation project funding (through the Jobs Research Trust) for the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs projects in the regions. Three projects were presented to the workshop:

  • The Taranaki based Youthworks project which utilises government subsidies to get unemployed people working in the not-for-profit sector
  • The Employment Scholarship programme which places school leavers in paid work in office situations
  • The Te Araroa ocean-to-ocean trail from Ahipara to Kerikeri, which is providing work for young people developing the track.
  • All three projects have had great success with their young people and all noted the importance of providing them with a start in their working lives.

    Janelle Rees who had completed a year with the Employment Scholarship Programme seemed to sum it up when she said that the programme had not only given her direction and an understanding of the workplace but that everyone in the workplace had given her positive reinforcement of her own potential. Janelle is now studying law at Canterbury University and is a member of the Employment Scholarship Board.

    At the closing session Mayors Bob Parker and Tim Shadbolt participated in the celebrity debate.

    In addition, Judith Backhouse ran a workshop outlining preliminary findings from the pilot Destinations and Tracking project in Porirua and Christchurch, which was initiated by the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs. For further information on that project contact Judith Backhouse Career Centre Manager PO Box 4441 Christchurch. Phone (03) 3770530.

    Overall, the Mayors Taskforce had a very high presence at the conference with Mayors attending many workshops, field trips and social events. The conference was an excellent information sharing and gathering forum and Mayors will take back many new ideas to their local communities.

    A conference report should be published in the near future. For further information contact myself or any of the following Mayors who were at the Conference sessions: Yvonne Sharp (The Far North), Garry Moore (Christchurch), Grahame Hall (Rotorua), Pat O’Dea (Buller), Jenny Brash (Porirua), Sukhi Turner (Dunedin), Paul Matheson (Nelson), Frana Cardno (Southland), Brian Jeffares (Stratford), Graeme Ramsey (Kaipara), Wynne Raymond (Timaru).

    The next conference will be held in 2004 in Dunedin.

    — Jan Francis