Recovering from the many impacts of the Covid-19 coronavirus will take strong leadership from all over the world and one Rotorua teen is setting a high standard.
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Rotorua Boys' High School student Julius Smith, 17, was selected to join the Moko Foundation National Youth Board and throughout the nationwide lockdown he and his fellow board members developed a Post-Covid Youth Engagement Strategy on how they can continue to build rangatahi and leadership within communities around the country.
"To apply, we had to make a one-minute video. I talked about why I want to be a leader - there aren't many youth leaders in New Zealand at the moment so I hoped I could add to that list," Julius said.
"Just making New Zealand a place people want to call home and creating opportunities for all youths."
He said he was humbled to be selected for the National Youth Board. Working with like-minded peers was exciting but at the same time a good challenge.
"Throughout lockdown, we had meetings online and talked about how to engage rangatahi after lockdown. We want to better communities and bring everyone together, especially after going through tough times.
"We want to create summits, little camps around New Zealand, to engage with youths from those communities, rather than creating one big summit for everyone. We can reach more people that way. We would create activities or participate in activities to encourage leadership in anyone who would do them."
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He said a good leader should be someone who is observant, can reset their mind for any situation and not only be able to help in a group setting but also one-on-one as individuals.
"Being on the National Youth Board was quite different, being around people my own age, I'm used to being around adults or kids. It was quite challenging because they understand you more and you're a bit shy. Being one of the youngest in the group it feels like they're on a higher scale of intellect.
"It's still a great learning experience - these kids are so bright and they just put themselves out there. I've learned that challenges come at different ages and coming out of your shell is a big challenge."
Looking to the future, he would like to use his leadership skills in a business setting some day.
"My leadership role has greatly developed over the years, leading a group is a main role of mine but I want to be in a business environment. That's where I see myself, not only as a business owner but as someone everyone will look up to and want to work for."