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The Ministry of Youth Development's (MYD) Youth Voice Project has developed an innovative online platform called ‘The Hive’ that aims to increase young people's participation in government policy development by facilitating their contribution and guiding them through the submission process.

MYD worked in partnership with design agency Curative and 15 rangatahi (young people) on this project and this post (the last in a series of 3) gives the perspective of Abby McRoberts, a young person involved in The Hive.

Read the first post in the series: The Hive – a new approach to engaging with rangatahi (young people).

Read the second post in the series: The Hive — learnings and insights.

Being a Hiver

The Ministry of Youth Development chose 15 young people to be a part of The Hive and I was lucky enough to be one of them. My experience of this innovative approach to youth engagement has been unpredictable and empowering. As The Hive continues to grow and we look towards the project’s future, it’s worth highlighting from a Hiver perspective what has made this mahi so great.

The Hive offered a point of difference I hadn’t seen before

Before signing myself up for The Hive, I had previously been involved in youth voice consultations. I’d caught a passion for youth voice, finding that my friends and I were disgruntled with decisions that concerned us being made without us. I’d put myself forward for panels and workshops to help ensure young people were being listened to. When I heard about The Hive, I thought it would be another opportunity to make sure this was happening.

I think youth engagement always comes from a good place, but the true opinions of young people can get lost when adults have preconceived ideas of what they want to hear. The organisers of The Hive could’ve easily put together a prototype they liked and then consulted with some youths, but this wasn’t going to be the case. With The Hive it was different, I enjoyed the uncertainty surrounding the end product. They wanted us to dream up solutions and engage in a design jam (which sounded much more exciting than a typical workshop). We were promised fun, food and blue-sky thinking. I was intrigued, sign me up!

Being part of The Hive has been so much more than a weekend in Auckland

A key part of The Hive has been the two weekend hui, where we planned our campaign for the Biodiversity Strategy and discussed our future vision for the project. At these hui we had great support to understand the strategy we were designing the campaign for, how the submissions we gathered would progress through the policy process and tips and tricks for making our material engaging (and look slick). At the end of two weekend sessions, I was amazed at how much work we had done and energised to do more.

On top of our hard work, it was great to hang out with and get to know the other Hivers. We travelled to Auckland from all across New Zealand, each with our own experiences and insights to bring to the table. Everyone involved has their heart in this work, I really think we all want to see true youth voice and engagement made possible through The Hive. When we all put on our orange Hive hoodies, we look like a proper group of change makers.

Keeping the campaign momentum going across Aotearoa was key to our success

With Hivers spread across New Zealand, when the Biodiversity Strategy submissions campaign kicked off we needed to stay in contact. We used group video calls and messages to discuss how the campaign was going and brainstorm ideas to get other young people excited about the submissions process. Hivers made physical submission templates, wrote and delivered speeches, put up posters and shared the work across social media. The campaign was quickly mobilised across the country, and I think the cohesiveness of our work was aided by our ability to stay connected.

The insights of young people are golden, and The Hive believes that

Being a young person in 2019 is a unique experience. Our lives are undeniably different to those of generations before us and there is a real uncertainty as to what our future will hold. There are questions we may think have pretty obvious answers, but I’ve learned this information can be gold for the adults in the room. Sharing our thoughts can sometimes feel frustrating and can be easily left out, but I like to think The Hive is showing the benefit of a platform to gather the voices of young people in a hub exclusively for us by us.

Hopes for the future

My hope for the future is that youth engagement is a natural step in the policy process and young people are seen as key stakeholders. I think The Hive can help steer this movement, where organisations can utilise the platform we’ve created and gain valuable insights. I think youth engagement can be meaningful and rewarding for both policy makers and young people and The Hive is a great example of this.

Contact details

For more information you can contact:

Sarah Freer
Senior Advisor Youth Development
Ministry of Youth Development
sarah.freer005@msd.govt.nz

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