A range of perspectives on youth and resilience were shared at an event which brought leaders like child psychiatrist Hinemoa Elder, Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick, and Queen's Young Leader Ezekiel Raui to Whangārei.

Whangārei Youth Space's (WYS) second annual WYStalks event brought about 150 people through Forum North on Monday for what youth space general manager Bernie Burrell called an "overwhelming success".

"It was a really fantastic event. I think the calibre of speakers being on the ground in Northland was a real gift to our youth worker community.

"The buzz around the room, just having this line up of speakers here and being able to see them and interact with them, it was just a fantastic opportunity."


WYStalks was launched last year after WYS identified there was a need to bring leaders in the youth development space to Northland as WYS often couldn't afford to travel to large conferences in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, and knew others in Te Tai Tokerau faced the same problem.

This year the speakers included child and adolescent psychiatrist Hinemoa Elder; Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick; Northland youth MP Shiquille Duval; Ezekiel Raui, who is from Whatuwhiwhi and was a recipient of a Queen's Young Leaders Award in 2018; Ricky Houghton, chief executive of He Korowai Trust; Briarley Birch, Kaiārahi Kaiwhakamana for VoYce – Whakarongo Mai; Ryan Donaldson, WYS development lead; and NetSafe's education adviser Pauline Spence.

"The theme was resilience and pathways to resilience and each of the speakers shared quite a personal approach of what resilience is to them, it was really special.

"In terms of Professor Elder, she spoke about brain research and how that can impact on young people, and traumatic brain injury, what some models are that can be useful with rangatahi (youth) and whānau in that space.

"Ezekiel shared his journey and the challenges he's faced and the opportunities he was given and how he took those opportunities. In the afternoon we had Briarley Birch who was amazing and spoke about as youth workers, how are we resilient?"

Asaeli Pene, a youth space trustee, and Izaia Tilialo, who is on Whangārei's Youth Advisory Group, were the hosts on the day and did a "fantastic job", Burrell said.

"It's quite something for young people to be able to facilitate and host a large audience on a pretty impressive occasion. It was great."

Burrell said she also received positive feedback from the speakers.


"They've all offered to come back, which is fantastic. These are really busy people with busy lives but they're invested in making better futures for young people of Northland."