Aotearoa Leadership Tour by Kate Turner
The Aotearoa Leadership Tour could only be described as the experience of a lifetime. The opportunities that we had on the tour were second to none, and the people we met were incredible on so many different levels. There were too many highlights for me to list, but there were a few things that stood out more than anything else on the tour. One of the most grounding experiences we had in Australia was when we visited The Block, in Redfern. The afternoon we visited the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, we headed down to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. It’s where Paul Keating gave his famous speech, and we were lucky enough to be able to speak to Jenny Munro, who has been protesting the development of a student-housing block on this land. It was an incredibly surreal experience to be talking to her, sitting in the dirt surrounded by tents in the place where Keating’s speech had been given as the sun went down.
Of course, the people we met while in New Zealand were also amazing. We were so lucky to meet the leader of the Maori Party, the Hon Tariana Turia, and also the Attorney General of New Zealand, the Hon Christopher Finlayson. Our interactions with both of these people were wonderful, and the interest they and their teams took in us as delegates, as well as our organisation as a whole was so humbling. There’s a special feeling of empowerment that comes about when people are genuinely interested in what young people have to say, and to have that around people who are so highly regarded was phenomenal. The entire two weeks that were the Aotearoa Leadership Tour were life changing. I can’t quite pinpoint how it happened, or even tie down individual events that have made it happen, but I returned to Australia feeling like a different person. A more empowered, passionate person, and one who wants to see change. Programs like these are truly fantastic in the way they work, in that they both educate and entertain delegates to ensure they have the greatest experience possible. I’d like to thank the incredible people who’ve put so much effort and faith in the tour, from the facilitators, to the people who met with us in Australia and in New Zealand, to my fellow delegates. Thank you so much for this opportunity – it’s one I will not be forgetting in a hurry.