Social and economic issues confronting Ruapehu youth and how best to resolve them was the focus of a Mayors Taskforce for Jobs (MTFJ) hui held in Taumarunui.

The MTFJ is a nationwide network of New Zealand's Mayors who are working together towards having all young people under 25 engaged in either education, training, work or other positive activity in their communities.

MTFJ Coordinator James Mather was in Taumarunui on Tuesday to meet with Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron and other key organisations involved with youth locally including the Ministry of Social Development, the Police, and the Kokiri Trust.

Mather said that the MTFJ was talking with mayors and others around NZ to identify the common challenges councils face in regard to their young people.


"By identifying the common challenges throughout NZ we are also able to identify and share what works locally and that can be duplicated," Mather said.

"We are then able to share these findings with central government with the aim of hopefully influencing policy direction and addressing some of the persistently difficult issues preventing better long term outcomes for all NZ youth."

Mayor Cameron said that the hui discussed a number of areas that the MTFJ was actively involved with in Ruapehu.

"The push to have central government fund and coordinate a universal driving programme in schools is being promoted by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) and is of special interest to rural districts like Ruapehu without public transport options," Cameron said.

"Having a drivers licence is often essential to being able to get to work in rural communities as well as more often than not being a requirement of the job.

"Until now all districts have been doing their own thing in this area however the Labour government campaigned on giving school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a 'School Leavers Toolkit' that includes having a drivers licence so we are hopeful of seeing progress."

As well as being a barrier to work and social participation not having a driver's licence is often the way many young people first come into contact with the criminal justice system, he said.