The newly formed 2021 Hastings Youth Council will submit on council projects and for the second year have a seat at council subcommittee tables.
Made up of 19 members from ages 15 to 23, the youth council is responsible for creating opportunities for young people to participate, be heard and be involved in community activities and council decisions.
2021 chairman Karamu High School student Keelan Hesterman believes the real opportunity for the youth council to make a difference is in making submissions on council projects, sitting at subcommittee tables and advocating for young people.
He said the council wants to submit on as much as possible, especially on projects that will affect Hastings in 20-30 years' time, or involve services and infrastructure targeted towards young people.
"My vision is that in 2021 we can really get our teeth into council policy, and build our reputation as a youth body that provides considered and relevant ideas and perspectives on how we deal with the issues facing our region, particularly in regards to our young people."
Council projects include the Waiaroha Water Project and initiatives emerging from the Revitalisation plan.
Starting last year, youth councillors now appoint members to council subcommittees.
Youth appointments were made to the Great Communities, District Development, Eco District and Civic and Administration subcommittees and the Active Transport committee.
District councillor Wendy Schollum, who works alongside and mentors the youth council, said the council last year used subcommittee appointments as an opportunity to learn about the subcommittee's work programme and how best they could contribute to debate.
They identified the need for succession planning and determined that where possible there is always at least one experienced youth councillor and one new member at each subcommittee meeting, allowing for insights to be passed from one youth council to the next.
Schollum said in order to ensure the aspirations, concerns and ideas of rangatahi are considered in all council planning, policies and decision making, their voice needs to be at the council table from strategy conception.
"After all, it is their generation (and those of their children) that the decisions we make today are most likely to impact."