The young people of Kaitaia have been given a glimpse of how they might change their lives, and the world, at a Business of Youth Business seminar.
Organised by Grind Studios founders Dougal and Carolyn Stott, and supported by Far North REAP, the seminar focused on youth employment, education and training, and how whanau, the community and business can support the next generation.
Young people and youth workers heard a range of guest speakers in the morning, followed in the afternoon by a workshop led by the same speakers, addressing Keys to Success - a how-to-guide, identifying intrinsic drivers, putting passion to work and matching goals and passion.
Speakers included Matt Brown, founder of My Fathers Barbers, and Jade Hohaia, youth manager for Sustainable Solutions (Raukawa Charitable Trust and Tokoroa social sector trials).
Ms Hohaia, who has worked in youth development in Christchurch and Tokoroa for almost 15 years, said the main initiative in Tokoroa was the establishment of a youth hub, a place for the town's young people to socialise, find help with school work etc.
Since the opening of the hub, in tandem with other initiatives, Tokoroa's youth crime rate had fallen 85 per cent.
"It's not rocket science. It's about giving rangatahi something to do that they enjoy," she said.
She demonstrated the concept of pursuing a passion about looking at the people on bank notes, from $5 to $100.
"These are five people who used their passion to change the world," she said, adding that, "The next Apirana Ngata might be in this room right now.
"The world is bigger than Kaitaia; get out there and discover it."
She then donated the notes towards the cause, as an investment in the future of the youth in Kaitaia.
Matt Brown, founder of My Fathers Barbers, a barber studio based in Christchurch which has been in business for 18 months, said he had styled the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Savage. He had travelled around the world, styling and conducting workshops for stars such as Jay Z and Pharrell, NBA All Star players and companies such as L'Oreal Paris.
He flew to Kaitaia from a six-week working holiday in New York.
Matt's story was one of hardship, growing up with an alcoholic father, gambling mother, family abuse and attempting suicide. "Nothing's going to change until we start talking about it," he said.
His salvation came when he went to live at Restoration House, a home for troubled boys. It was there that he finally felt wanted and loved, and developed a desire to help other men.
He began working from his shed at home, cutting his mates' hair at first until word began to spread, via social media and word of mouth.
He saved for his first set of clippers, and it had "taken off from there".
He was about to open his first barber shop in Christchurch, and now mentors apprentice barbers, choosing men with "passion over talent".
"Listen to your heart, your passion. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart," he said.
Meanwhile he promised to "support this kaupapa for at least the next three years".
"We are investing in our youth here in the Far North," he said.