Meeting with the United Nations Secretary General has strengthened Hawke's Bay year 11 student Poppy Kelly's resolve to pursue a career in environmental issues.

The Havelock North High School student was among a select group of students from around the country who were invited to attend a breakfast with António Guterres at Auckland's War Memorial Museum on Monday.

The gathering was part of Guterres' tour of New Zealand and the wider Pacific Islands and the country's youth climate change members and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw were also in attendance.

The 16-year-old said the opportunity arose through connections made at environmental leadership camp; the Blake Inspire programme, which was held in April and facilitated discussions around environmental issues like climate change, marine and freshwater health and biodiversity decline.

Advertisement

"I definitely want to do a lot with the United Nations and I've always been interested in that, so when I got asked, it was yes straight away."

During the encounter, Kelly was able to ask one question; what is the hardest thing that humans are going to have to adapt to, to reach our climate change goal?

The answer was "different, but it made sense", she said.

"He said women empowerment, which was really cool and he talked about how women bring sincerity that men sometimes lack and also the drive to get things done quickly and just less talk and more action."

Guterres' "humble" nature reminded Kelly a lot of her grandad who passed away last year.

"My grandad was a businessman. He was very respectful and knew what he was talking about, but he was very approachable and the UN Secretary General was just the same; you could ask him any questions.

"He was just a very nice man and he had a bit of humour to him and straight to the point as well."

Having been given the opportunity, Kelly believes similar experiences should be available for students.

"There should be more things for youth to be involved in. Because for me, after I did the Blake Inspire programme, it gave me more confidence and led to this opportunity."