Speaking at a youth and sports workshop held at the Ministry of Internal Affairs on February 23, Manavaroa Jr referred to himself as a ‘bus driver’ for youth.
“If we have a puncture in our tyre, that means we have a problem with the youth,” he said. “Or if there is no fuel, I know that we need to refuel to push our bus to higher and greater achievements.”
In his capacity as ‘bus driver’, Manavaroa Jr will provide policy advice to the government in regard to youth and sports development with everything that they do in regard to the Child-Youth policy.
Before he took on the role, Manavaroa Jr said that he didn’t know there was such a policy in place, and said it was likely there were a number of people in the same boat.
“We have to reach out and promote this policy, and we must also make sure that we implement the policy,” he said.
“Especially when a big part of the policy is to empower our language and culture within the youth.”
The policy will target those between 15 and 24, and will have six goals that they aim to achieve.
Family and relationships is the first one, which focuses on young mothers and couples, to make sure that they aren’t left behind.
“The second is education and economic opportunities, because every child and youth has the right to education.
“This is working with Ministry of Education to promote our youth to further their education to become leaders for tomorrow.”
Number three is empowering youth through community, spiritual, cultural and personal development.
Manavaroa Jr said that Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the only two islands where the children at school speak English and Maori, whereas in the Pa Enua they are speaking in Cook Islands Maori only.
“One person actually said I’d rather be fluent in my language, and have broken English, than have broken English and Maori. I think that’s a good point,” he said. On the spiritual side of the third goal, Manavaroa Jr said that they need to reach out to those who aren’t on the right path by helping them become resilient.
The fourth goal is to support young people in achieving optimal health, and the fifth springboards off it by focusing on improving wellbeing and welfare.
Youth risk and resilience is the final goal, which he said is especially relevant after the recent arrests at a nightclub.
“There was a post on Facebook recently asking if there are enough activities to keep our youth occupied.
“One of the comments from Clive Nicholas said that there are a lot of activities, but it is up to us to join those. And at night, there are also activities through church groups.
“We need to promote these activities for those in need, and we hope to achieve these goals by 2020.”