A group of Northland youth have taken big steps toward contributing to the region's needs and strengths thanks to the 2014 Northland Youth Summit.
The aim of the summit - hosted at Te Ahu Centre on Thursday and Friday - was to get a youth perspective on what is needed in the region.
The first day saw addresses by two keynote speakers to fuel ideas and inspiration.
Actress and comedian Madeline Sami gave a brief history of her performance work, the slumps, taking jobs she wouldn't normally have considered - such as dressing up as a Kinder Surprise egg - and how to learn from the experience.
"It taught me that it's not always easy and not to give up on my dream," she said.
Another keynote speaker, Barnaby Bennett, spoke about his involvement in various projects around Christchurch since the 2011 earthquake.
Mr Bennett, who has an architectural background, and grew up in Whangarei, also spoke about his work on projects including the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and reiterated the importance of using failure as a tool to do better next time.
"Embrace failure. The more you fail, the more you are trying," he said.
He said the youth present were fortunate to be given the opportunity to affect change.
The second day of the summit saw participants divided into 18 groups to outline projects which were presented to the other groups, with the top 10 voted on.
They ranged from concerts and festivals, clothing and feeding the disadvantaged to artistic projects.
The top three projects ended up being Pepi Pride, a children's clothing exchange for solo mothers, Light it Up, a fire festival, and Bus-Sted, a beautification art project for the Whangarei Bus terminal.
Kaitaia College student Nina Griffiths, 15, said she had taken a lot away from the two day summit.
"It was awesome to meet so many like-minded people, and to be asked to create something that may be actually carried out."
Another, 16-year-old Ezekiel Raui from Karikari Peninsula, said the main motive for him was to work alongside other youth from different communities. "Everyone here agrees that the main priority is to change the negative perception of youth."
Summit organiser Rosie Riggir was pleased with the outcome. "This summit inspires and teaches youth valuable skills - how to make it happen."