Mana Vercoe hopes a two-week trip to New York will give him knowledge to bring back to his home town.

The 16-year-old is one of 12 Kiwis selected to attend a United Nations forum next month alongside Dr Lance O'Sullivan.

Last week O'Sullivan announced he would be attending the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in mid-April and wanted to take just two young representatives along.

He invited people to submit an application video and received more than 300 entries.

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He later announced he would be able to take 12 people following support from corporates and individuals.

Mana Vercoe, 16, has been selected for a trip to New York with Dr Lance O'Sullivan. Photo / Stephen Parker
Mana Vercoe, 16, has been selected for a trip to New York with Dr Lance O'Sullivan. Photo / Stephen Parker

Rotorua youth Mana Vercoe, Te Rua Wallace, and Te Wehi Wright make up a quarter of those selected.

Vercoe said he was excited to bring knowledge from the trip back to Rotorua.

"It's a cliche but I'm passionate about our rangatahi, our youth," he said.

Rotorua youth head to United Nations forum in New York.

The Rotorua Boys' High School student found out about his selection late on Wednesday night and said he was "lost for words".

"Something I can get out of it would be using it to change the way I see things day to day," he said.

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"It's an awesome opportunity to gain knowledge.

"It's not just the meeting I'll be able to get knowledge out of. It will be the other people I'm surrounded by during this trip."

Te Wehi Wright, 25, lives in Wellington but is originally from Rotorua and still calls it home.

Te Wehi Wright wants to learn about other initiatives while at the forum. Photo / Supplied
Te Wehi Wright wants to learn about other initiatives while at the forum. Photo / Supplied

Wright found out about the opportunity when friends mentioned it to him on Facebook.

"It was a good boost for the confidence knowing the number of people that backed me for the opportunity. I didn't want to waste that support," he said.

The Victoria University graduate said he was eager to attend the forum so he could use the knowledge to help people reconnect to their cultural heritage, something he is passionate about.

"I'm keen to look at language initiatives going around, targeted with connecting people to their culture," he said.

"I owe so much to my language and culture. I feel I've been lucky enough to have that and everything I have is because of that."

Wright attended Maori immersion schools for much of his life, only learning English at age 8.

"I firmly believe I'm here because of my language," he said.

"I'm looking forward to experiencing the UN. You hear stories about it and see movies, but to be able to go there and say I've seen some of the greatest indigenous minds speak, that's invaluable."

Te Rua Wallace, 21, is overwhelmed, happy and nervous about the opportunity.

"There's going to be so much I will gain from that I will be able to share with everyone," she said.

"Meeting the other 11 rangitahi: The trip aside, I know being with them is a huge privilege and I'm going to learn a lot from them."

Wallace worked in Rotorua and said she was looking forward to connecting with others.

Rotorua youth head to United Nations forum in New York.

O'Sullivan said he was delighted to take a group to the forum.

"Experiencing other cultures is an important part of developing leadership skills and I am sure this trip will be a great experience for all these young people."

The forum takes place from April 16 to 27 and is themed around indigenous people's collective rights to lands, territories and resources.