Rotorua's future leaders were told they should educate themselves as much as possible to become a contributing member of society.
At the Community Leadership Breakfast at the Copthorne Hotel yesterday, chief Crown Treaty negotiator Pat Snedden told the younger members of the audience they had to find something they enjoyed and stick with it.
Mr Snedden spoke in front of around 120 people, including community leaders from all sectors. The breakfast marked the start of Leadership Week.
"Fundamentally you're gifted," he told students, which included John Paul College, Western Heights High School and Kaitao Middle School.
"You're able to get to grips with the challenges in your future. If it's not turning you on, ask yourself why not. It's clear and absolutely true that the better you educate yourself the more capable you're going to be, having leadership traits that will make you a valuable and contributing person. If you think it sucks, it reduces your capacity to be a contributor in future."
Mr Snedden was heavily involved in the 1991 Ngati Whatua Treaty settlement and said that process was a prime example of leadership - land was gifted back to the people of Auckland via a Reserves Act, enabling people of all cultures to benefit. He said manaakitanga was Ngati Whatua's integrity statement with mana "the prestigious holding of power and authority while in service to others".
He said that having the right integrity statement was key to success.
"Get your integrity statement right and the rest will follow."
He said Maori were able to show their cultural excellence at tangi but could not do the same with the living.
"What's happening in our leadership in New Zealand that we don't get the kind of resonance in our council, corpor-ations, schools and universities, which reflect back to this kind of supercharged confidence, where people are operating entirely in their own context?
"We constantly find Maori at the bottom of the chart, we don't find the excellence we get at a tangi."
Mr Snedden is also a former chairman of the Auckland District Health Board, and chairman of Housing New Zealand.
He is also involved in the Manaiakalani Education Trust, which works with decile 1 schools in Auckland.