Lizzie Marvelly met some of the hundreds of rangatahi at the recent Festival For The Future in Wellington. Photo/File.
Lizzie Marvelly, a Te Arawa songbird and commentator, was only last week made a Distinguished Young Alumni of Massey University. Lizzie went along to the Festival For The Future for Te Ao with Moana to check out where the kids are at.
There’s nothing more energising than a room jam-packed full with rangatahi. Festival For the Future 2019 provided many such rooms and the atmosphere was electric. Bringing together young people from all around the mōtu, the hui featured keynote speakers, panel discussions and workshops, all hosted at venues on Wellington’s waterfront.
Roaming around the TSB Arena, I met some of the hundreds of rangatahi who had flocked to the future-focused event. They had come for different reasons, but one of the main issues on their minds was climate change. They were concerned about the scale of the damage that has been wrought, the challenge ahead to bring about change significant enough to save the planet from destruction and the future of vulnerable Pacific nations, among other worries. They were energised, however, and ready to take over the fight.
Mental health also featured prominently in many of the discussions throughout the weekend. Rangatahi are ready to stage a “wellbeing revolution”, recognising the struggles many of their peers are facing, and taking on the challenge of confronting the conversation around mental health head-on. As one attendee told me, 'it’s vital for their next generation to prioritise their mental wellbeing because they are the future'.
They will do things differently, this generation. That much seemed apparent to me. There were countless conversations about Ihumātao, hard questions posed to adults in positions of power, a willingness to learn and adapt and a refusal to be side-lined or cowed.
One thing was abundantly clear to me: the future has arrived. Our rangatahi are inspired, empowered, educated, poised and ready to take over. The issues we face today will be the challenges that they inherit. In my view, they are more than ready to meet them.