Future Leaders making a difference in their backyards and beyond

Future Leaders gather at recent hui
Issue date:
Learning and developing
Accepted, respected, and connected
Involved and empowered

When COVID-19 hit, many of the challenges faced by young people living in rural communities became even harder. But COVID also provided an opportunity for young people in the Future Leaders programme to demonstrate the quality of their leadership.

“Lockdown didn’t stop our Future Leaders from connecting, sharing the challenges they face, sharing ideas, and taking action in their local communities in meaningful ways,” says Programme Manager Bridget Cassie.

“From the hundreds of care-packages they coordinated and distributed throughout lockdown, to bringing people together to explore positive pathways forward, to engaging people to vote in the elections for the very first time – our Future Leaders have stepped up in so many ways.  We couldn't be more proud of their achievements.” 

About the programme

The Future Leaders programme supports young people in rural and provincial communities to build their entrepreneurship and leadership capability and make a difference in their own backyard. The programme is currently run in six communities (Kaikohe, Whangarei, Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki, Kawerau and Greymouth) and involves a small team of Future Leaders in each community, supported by a local ‘Coach’ who is backed up by the team in Wellington.  

“At its core, the programme puts young people at the heart of creating solutions to the challenges they face in their communities, building their capability and confidence, and wrapping a community of support around them,” says Bridget.

Run as a part-time programme, it gives young people aged 16–25 access to coaching and mentoring, as well as workshops to help develop ideas and skills, including: ideas for change, event planning, networking, social enterprise and sustainability, prototyping and testing, and evaluation.

There are also three project-based challenges, which involve building a team identity by designing a team hoody; coordinating and organising an inspiring local event; and developing and building support around an impact project in their community.

Future Leaders began as a small-scale pilot in 2016, and is run by Inspiring Stories, a Kiwi charity founded in 2011 with the vision to see every young New Zealander unleash their potential to change the world.  To date, over 500 young people have taken part in the Future Leaders programme, which is now in its fifth year.

Nominations are now open for the 2021 programme. Every participant in the Future Leaders programme receives a scholarship, to ensure that cost is not a barrier to access leadership opportunities. Find out more about how you can support the programme below.

Find your Fish movement

An example of a Future Leaders project is the ‘Find your Fish’ youth-led movement, founded by 23 year-old Talei Bryant – a former Future Leader and one of the programme’s current local coaches.

‘Find your Fish’ is a not for profit movement that aims to help young people find their passion in life. It aims to do this through free workshops, free wellbeing programmes and support to develop youth entrepreneurial skills. The programme will be up and running in its entirety in 2021. You can see and hear more about Talei and the Find your Fish movement on this episode of Outliers (from 9.55 - 17.50min), which was made with the support of NZ on Air and RNZ. 

Talei has recently been named a young leader finalist in New Zealand’s 2020 Women of Influence programme.

Find out more

Find out more about the Future Leaders Programme, including how to nominate someone.

Find out more about how you can support the programme, and invest in a young person's future

Find out more about the 2020 Future Leaders

Find out more about Future Leaders’ activity during Lockdown