Kaihau Louise Hiwarau, a former student of the Teen Parent Education Centre Kawerau, was one of 36 rangitahi (young people) from throughout New Zealand selected to take part in a four-day hui.
The hui, Waka NZ, was a collaboration between NZ Treasury and the McGuinness Institute.
Over the four days the participants engaged with and learned from NZ Treasury policy analysts and Maori leaders.
The hui aimed to empower rangitahi with foresight and tools to build a shared understanding of the future, and to provide space for youth to voice their ideas and observations about the shape of New Zealand in a post Treaty settlement era.
The hui culminated in a group presentation at Government House to Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and a public presentation at Te Papa.
Hiwarau is part-way through a degree at Waikato University majoring in political science.
She is grateful for the second chance education she was offered as a teen parent at the Kawerau Teen Parent Education Centre, whose host school is Tarawera High School.
She is appreciative of her tutors Kylie Torkington and Susan Crighton for helping her gain NCEA Level 3 and University Entrance, and for all the ongoing support she has received since she left the unit.
She invited her partner, Whitiora Raki, and Crighton as guests to the presentation at Government House and Te Papa.
Hiwarau was honoured to be chosen to present a taonga to Dame Patsy at the conclusion of the presentation.