Rangatahi Māori have spent two days trying to find solutions to future-proof their lives.

This year, students from 36 schools were invited to attend a Youth Leadership summit.

The inaugural event was launched in 2018 in Tauranga which saw more than 100 rangatahi Māori from across the Western Bay of Plenty attend.

This year the focus was on building solutions to key issues facing Māori from a rangatahi perspective.

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Steen Christensen, 16, from John Paul College was at the Rotorua Energy Events Centre and put into a group to find the answers to questions he had been given on the first day.

"My group thought of an app to help rangatahi Māori and their parents connect with their whakapapa and history, to help them form their identity as Māori in the colonised world we live in.

"It was difficult working together with people from different schools and ways of thinking, but I have met lots of people and we had a good kaupapa."

Rotorua Lakes High student Freddy-Ray Collier, 17, said it was a good experience working with people he didn't know while critically thinking.

"It will be really valuable in the future."

His classmate, Te Aorere White, 17, described the two-day event as full on.

"Organising what we would be doing, our pitch, but it was kind of like debating.

I appreciated it a lot because I want to be a lawyer."

Co-ordinator Awhina August said rangatahi Māori make up 44 per cent of the population in the Bay of Plenty which meant Māori played a significant part in the future of the region.

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August works closely with He Mauri Ohooho which co-developed the Māori Youth Long Term Strategy for the Bay of Plenty region, this being the name of the event, He Rangatahi He Anamata, Our Youth Our Future.

It highlights the unique Māori profile in the region and identifies key opportunities and pathways to achieve by 2050.

"This is a very intentional and deliberate project which caters to the needs of Māori through a Māori lens.

"I'm passionate about rangatahi Māori and I think there is economic development in our region and growth is dynamic but there is no point in having that if we are not mobilising the future workforce."

Her belief was to make a transformation in the region there had to be an investment in young people.

The two-day event included
- Facilitated workshops on innovation, critical thinking and design process
- Inspirational speakers
- A Māori leaders panel

Additional reporting by Samantha Olley