Thousands of 18-year-olds are heading out into the world ready to pave their own way.

The first lot of university students start at Canterbury and Lincoln on Monday, and the country's remaining six universities welcome their 2019 intakes over the next two weeks.

Thousands more will be starting apprentiships, internships or their first jobs.

And while Generation Z might roll their eyes as the older generation imparts wisdom, learned from years of experience, a lot of it is sound advice.


The Herald on Sunday asked a range of people from various industries including entertainment, sports, politics and business, what they would say to their 18-year-old self, and what advice they would give to the teens heading out on their own today.

Mike McRoberts, broadcaster

A young Mike McRoberts, before he was a leading broadcaster. Photo / supplied
A young Mike McRoberts, before he was a leading broadcaster. Photo / supplied

It's 1984. What a year, straight out of high school and you landed a cadetship with Radio New Zealand.

It meant moving from home in Christchurch to Wellington.

All your worldly belongings fitted in a single suitcase and the only money you had was $200 you made from selling your bike. You are on your own; and you've never felt so terrified or excited.

Last year you won a scholarship to study law, and everyone was so proud. But then you turned it down to chase your dream of being a journalist.

At times you're going to question whether you made the right decision, you'll feel alone and frustrated at your lack of progress.

McRoberts is now a 6pm news anchor. Photo / Norrie Montgomery.
McRoberts is now a 6pm news anchor. Photo / Norrie Montgomery.

Don't worry, it's going to work out.

One of your first jobs as a cadet is delivering the internal mail at Broadcasting House.


There are lots of different departments and offices you have to go into, but it's the newsroom that you love.

The buzz and noise of the place just before the midday news is exhilarating and sometimes you'll sit and eat your lunch in there just to feel part of it.

A few of the reporters and producers befriend you and share stories or words of advice.

You'll remember this as you grow in the profession and you'll take enormous pleasure from helping others too.

One of the producers asks if you'd like to work on election night as a runner, literally running results into the studio. He barely gets the sentence out before you've said yes.

The Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, had called a snap election, and the Labour party led by David Lange could smell blood in the water.

It was a momentous, history-making election night and you absolutely loved it.

You also knew from that night exactly what you wanted to do. Which at 18 is pretty special.

You are lucky, enjoy the ride.

Katie Perkins, White Fern and police officer

Kia ora Perky,

Constable Katie Perkins here… Yup, your supposedly older and wiser 30-year-old self.

I guess I would say both are true, especially, no doubt, the older part. You know how you currently dive around and just bounce back up!?

Future White Fern and police officer Katie Perkins, far right, pictured aged 18 as a member of the Westlake Girls' High School first XI. Photo / Supplied
Future White Fern and police officer Katie Perkins, far right, pictured aged 18 as a member of the Westlake Girls' High School first XI. Photo / Supplied

Well, just you wait, that won't last.

Piece of advice #1: I know it's boring but stretching and yoga will be amazing for your longevity! Start now!!

I know that next year your plan is to go to Uni and study something to do with sports management… Being the All Blacks manager does sound like an awesome gig.

"But now you're a cop!?" you're thinking. Well yeah, and it's the best career choice I could have made!

Perkins in action
Perkins in action

Uni will still serve its purpose, so no dramas there, as without it you probably wouldn't have ended up with an amazing job at New Zealand Rugby League for a couple of years.

It's incredible to think that, despite all the different dreams and ideas you've had so far, and will continue to create, the one constant since you were 5 has been the dream to be a WHITE FERN.

You know you're not the most naturally talented, you look at the kids in South Auckland who have all the talent in the world, but sadly not always the opportunity or support to fully realise their potential.

It is this knowledge that will fuel your passion for South Auckland later on, a desire to give young people the same opportunities you had.

But anyways, for now it's your work ethic to train hard and improve that will give you a great reputation among the cricketing crowd.

I only wish what I'm about to say could have actually been understood by you when you were 18.

Cricket is not always going to go your way, in fact you won't fully realise your WHITE FERNS dream until you let it go and learn to love yourself for who you are, not what you do or don't achieve.

But it's okay, once you get there (and you will) you will be rewarded with the greatest feeling of joy you've ever experienced.

Good job following your heart so far. Keep letting that guide where you put your energy because your heart for people will have a great influence.

Shot girl.



Sir Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill mayor

Hey You!

You who spend five minutes voting every three years and call it democracy. Have you got five minutes to spare to hear the story of my life?

I may look like a boring bureaucratic old fart but, man oh man, have I had one hell of a life.

As an 18-year-old political science and history student at Auckland University I experienced my first anti-war protest and arrest.

Tim Shadbolt protesting as a young man. Photo / Supplied
Tim Shadbolt protesting as a young man. Photo / Supplied

It was a traumatic, violent riot. I emerged as a radical student leader.

I was involved in numerous protests against civil war, the nuclear arms race, French bomb tests in the South Pacific, apartheid, Maori Land confiscations and race-based genocide to name just a few.

Then I founded a commune and became a concrete contractor.

Tim Shadbolt with son Reuben in 1971. Photo / Supplied
Tim Shadbolt with son Reuben in 1971. Photo / Supplied

In 1983 my life changed dramatically when I was elected mayor of Waitemata City, then mayor of Invercargill City.

After serving over 30 years as a mayor of two cities I received a knighthood.

My advice to an 18-year-old is get a good job or an education.

My first fulltime job was working as a tunneller on the Manapouri Power Project.

I learned to box, play senior rugby and survive.

Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill Mayor. Photo / Dianne Manson
Tim Shadbolt, Invercargill Mayor. Photo / Dianne Manson

A "man a mile" was killed on that project. Seventeen men lost their lives and there were numerous injuries.

Then I worked in Sydney on a construction site, but the building collapsed and everyone on the ground floor was killed except me.

Despite these tragedies I emerged tough enough to swim a marathon in the shark infested waters of local government.

I've been thrown out of a helicopter with a rubber band around my ankles, bitten by a police dog while training for an exhibition, rolled in the mayoral car and broken my neck and back in four places, been subjected to the biggest Audit Office investigation of any mayor in the history of New Zealand, taken to court on defamation allegations, arrested 33 times, jailed twice and spent five years in periodic detention centres for refusing to pay numerous fines as an act of civil disobedience.

As a mayor, student recruiter and the son of a naval officer I have travelled around the world many times and there is nowhere else I would rather live than in Aotearoa – the land of the free.

No it hasn't been a relaxing life but I've experienced so much kindness and generosity I wouldn't have missed it for quids. When things go wrong, as they inevitably do in everyone's lifetime I think of how lucky I was to be born in the most beautiful country in the world.

Deanna Yang, chief cookie officer of Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar

Dear 18-year-old Deanna,

You're about to start university. In the first year, you'll know exactly what you want to do.

By the second year, you won't have a clue anymore. By your third, you'll find a bucket list written from your 8-year-old self that says in lopsided writing "Open a cookie shop".

The idea to throw everything you know away (and not even use your degree!) frightens you, but excites you even more.

Chief cookie officer/owner of the Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Chief cookie officer/owner of the Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar. Photo / Brett Phibbs

In times of anxiety, ask yourself, what's the worst that happens if you fail?

You just go and get a job? You lose your life savings? And? So what? Will you die? No.

Will life move on? Yes. You can always earn more money but you can't earn back time and experiences. Jump.

Come the age of 21, you will create a little shop called Moustache Milk & Cookie Bar with people waiting outside in sleeping bags at 5am on opening day!

It's hard work. Yet greatly fulfilling. Get used to the feeling of dirt and grit under your fingernails. Get used to the taste of sweat and tears on your tongue.

The first three years are a dream. And suddenly it all comes crashing down because your first store is forced to close. Your life savings go with it.

Yang pictured at age 18. Photo / supplied
Yang pictured at age 18. Photo / supplied

But it's okay. When all else falls away, it is only hard work and resilience that will keep you going through the highs and lows of owning a business. You have to want the rain as much as you want the rainbow.

It's now 2019. You're 28. You own two new stores, an online shop and a 1978 yellow Bedford Bus that travels the country serving milk and cookies to all of New Zealand!

Ten years ago, none of this existed and people will tell you it's a stupid idea. Don't let that put you off creating. Believe in yourself until others have no choice but to believe in you too. Because…spoiler alert, all of them change their mind when they take their first bite of Moustache cookies.

Go get 'em girl,

Love future De x

Greg Koroheke, Anglican priest and Mongrel Mob "patched angel"

You're 18 now, and making some good decisions and some not so good ones.

Home is where the family is — and that means being on the move as we work together shearing, haymaking and helping our old people in the Hangatiki area, south of Otorohanga.

Greg Koroheke, a patched priest. Photograph / Jason Oxenham
Greg Koroheke, a patched priest. Photograph / Jason Oxenham

It's a good life, and if I had to chance to go back to living that way I would.

There wasn't an idle minute. When darkness came you slept. When daylight came, you got up.

There was no moaning, you just got it done, and I don't think any of us ever got sick.

We didn't even worry about money. Everybody shared it.

And the outside world? We never took any notice of that. Everything was going on in our world.

Koroheke aged 18. Photo / Supplied
Koroheke aged 18. Photo / Supplied

But I was also just starting to get involved in the Mongrel Mob's King Country chapter, going to youth camps.

Today, it's different. There's rules.

In those days, we were naughty. I don't want to say what we did — I could still get charged.

Being in the Mongrel Mob, it was mostly about crimes - it was just something you did, it was in front of you.

I want to say thank you to God for helping me get to 69.

When I talk to young people in jails now, I walk their journey back with them.

And I tell them what I would tell my 18-year-old self: There's a better life. Your family needs you. So don't go there, don't go down that path.

Kylie Bax, model and actress

Dear 18-year-old me,

I like to start with a warning.

The warning to me is to never to lose focus on the prize, never to lose focus and redirect your focus, stay strong and positive as you are now as an 18-year-old.

Stay semi-naive, fresh but never let your guard down completely.

Trust only yourself with your dreams as others will try to break them, destroy them or make them seem too lofty.

Kylie Bax. Photo / Supplied
Kylie Bax. Photo / Supplied

Nothing is beyond reach if you dare to dream, to try and to never give up.

As you mature the most harm will come from your own "logic", self doubt and others' jealousy.

Remember that our family is everything. Your mother, father, sister and brother who love you .

Not everyone's family can be this way , so Kylie, you're lucky.

Keep that safe.

Life is full of rollercoasters and mountains to climb, some so much harder than others , so Kylie, be ready.

Choose your friends and boyfriends wisely and listen to your inner voice. Usually it's right but the heart can lie, as can the mind sometimes.

Never miss a moment of good experiences to include in your box of memories.

And most of all remember that everything has a reason, whether you know it or not at that moment, or years down the road, there is always a reason things happen. Bad or good.

Strength of the soul is important. Find what brings you peace in times of weakness, which as you know are your beloved horses.

Keep asking questions so you keep learning and understanding, and most of all be grateful for life and what you achieve even through the hardest times.

David Seymour, ACT Party leader

Dear 2001 David,

If people say Auckland house prices can go even higher, and you should buy as soon as humanly possible, they may be on to something.

Act Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Paul Taylor
Act Party leader David Seymour. Photo / Paul Taylor

On that theme, don't be afraid to be a capitalist. Leftie teachers and lecturers will tell you nothing about investment, or that making money by owning capital is bad.

They're wrong. Start saving early. Remember the rule of seventy. Seventy divided by the annual interest rate is the number of years required for an investment to double.

There'll be setbacks but the S&P 500 will double in value by the time you're 35 and you'll be happy if you saved and invested.

Don't get hung up on particular qualifications. People say you have to study politics to be a politician and one day you'll find out this isn't true.

Seymour, aged 18. Photo / Supplied
Seymour, aged 18. Photo / Supplied

Your teachers say there's a shortage of science, tech, engineering and maths graduates.

They're right, but it doesn't mean everyone has to join the cause. Choose the qualifications you enjoy because you'll be better at them.

Synthesising multiple and abstract ideas into a succinct coherent narrative, for example, is a useful skill.

If you want to learn that writing philosophy and history essays, that's fine. Get the grades though. Cs may get degrees, but As get jobs.

On the other hand, don't avoid industries because do-gooders tell you they are bad.

Those who lecture you not to go into oil, gas, and mining probably won't know their iPad (look out for these, they will be seriously cool) works because of rare earth elements that have to be mined, and their reusable shopping bags are made from oil that has to be drilled.

Nevertheless, they will pay you handsomely for them all the same.

Finally; most things will turn out just fine.

There will always be threats, uncertainty, and the possibility of failure.

Once you get used to that you can relax and not only enjoy life more but succeed more, too.

Good luck,

2019 David

Louise Nicholas, victims' advocate

Wow it's been 33 years since I was 18 years old - 1986 was the year I had an amazing job at the Bank of New Zealand in Rotorua.

In 1987 the Edgecumbe earthquake struck and led to insurmountable heartache and devastation for so many in the BOP.

Victim advocate Louise Nicholas. Photo/ Mark Mitchell
Victim advocate Louise Nicholas. Photo/ Mark Mitchell

I remember going through my own insurmountable heartache.

As an 18-19 year old I prayed that the harm would stop. It didn't. But my hope and escape was my new boyfriend Ross, he kept me alive but didn't know he was ...crazy ay!!!

My learning from this has been watching my own daughters go through life being wrapped in cotton wool until they said "no more mum, we're ok".

But I wasn't... if I had my time again I would tell myself I need to talk to someone, I need for people to know, I need to tell me that I've done nothing wrong, they hurt me.

Nicholas aged 18. Photo / Supplied
Nicholas aged 18. Photo / Supplied

I have no blame or shame to show. As a young person now my advice is: enjoy life, be you, do what your heart tells you to. BUT, yep there's a but, sorry, not everyone has the same love of life, they want to hurt you. So I say go out, wear what you want, drink as much as you want BUT have that sober friend there alongside you. My daughters did, and they have enjoyed life.

It's like having a sober driver. You've got a sober mate, take turns in looking after each other, stay safe by staying together and never be afraid to ask for help if you think things don't feel or looks right.

Follow your dreams. You will make stuff happen, just believe ... I did.

Ian Kirkpatrick, former All Black

At 18 I left school, having spent five years at boarding school in Auckland.

Home was a farming life 20km out of Gisborne.

Although I had a rounded education, I was aiming at a farming career.

Former All Blacks captain Ian Kirkpatrick, left, and former All Blacks Manager John Sturgeon.
Former All Blacks captain Ian Kirkpatrick, left, and former All Blacks Manager John Sturgeon.

I spent two years working on the family farm. I then decided on more farming experience away from home, and headed for Rangiora.

The first year was full of adventure.

As well as farming experience, I had three months in Burnham Military camp as part of compulsory National Service.

In 1967, the Vietnam War was at its height.

Kirkpatrick in 196. Photo / Herald archives
Kirkpatrick in 196. Photo / Herald archives

If New Zealand had become more involved in the war, National Service soldiers would have been called up to fight.

Luckily for myself, this was limited to regular force soldiers.

If things had been different, my choice of career path would have changed significantly.

Throw in the winter playing rugby. I was fortunate to be picked in the Canterbury Rugby Team, and then in September I was picked in the All Black team to tour the UK.

This changed my life for the next few years.

As rugby was an amateur game in those days, my focus was still very much on farming as a career. This was vitally important.

My rugby career was to last 10 years, during which time I was back and forth to the family farm when time allowed, between travelling away with my All Black commitments.

The Gisborne family farm was eventually split up between myself and my three brothers.

When my rugby career finished, I was able to concentrate full-time on farming.

Looking back, it took a lot of effort to maintain a farming career as well as playing All Black rugby.

Even if rugby had been professional in those days, I would also have pursued an alternative career option.

There are no guarantees with a rugby career, which can be cut short at any time.

It is crucial to have an alternative for later life.

Summing up, if I had pursued a university degree, to use as a pathway to a future career, my advice would be to find something that you are passionate about.

There is a lot of living and learning to be done. With a well-rounded education, and an open mind, there are many options out there.

Follow your passion and you will be successful.