Future Leaders Academy founder Jethro Gilbert with 27 pairs of crutches he brought over to Rarotonga. Future Leaders Academy/22100244
Some of the top youth leaders from New Zealand, Australia and the Cook Islands are part of a week-long leadership course in Rarotonga.
Academy chief executive Jethro Gilbert said the event, which was last held in
the Cook Islands in 2019, has brought together 34 students from New Zealand,
five from Australia and 20 from all over the Cook Islands.
course which began on Friday, and runs until October 8 is a chance for young
leaders to “learn about making a difference”.
include head prefects from some of the country’s top schools. It’s about
connecting our next generation of future leaders,” Gilbert said.
“They will learn
all sorts of new skills and put them into action.”
Gilbert said the
event had received support from several organisations, including Vodafone, Bank
of the South Pacific, New Zealand High Commission, the National Environment
Service and the Cook Islands Voyaging Society.
He said the event
was returning to the Cook Islands, after Covid-19 got in the way of holding it
over the past couple of years.
“Each student will
get the chance to be the leader for at least one activity,” Gilbert said.
“We’re covering a
range of subjects, from business leadership, cultural leadership, environmental
leadership and outdoor recreation.”
Gilbert said about
70 per cent of those participating were female, while many of the New Zealand
students had a strong Pacific connection.
“They see it as a
chance to learn about their cultural connection,” he said.
The students will
get the chance to work with local businesses on real-time scenarios.
there might be an activity with Vodafone about improving connectivity in the
outer islands. Students will have the chance to put forward their solutions in
a short space of time,” Gilbert said.
“But there’s also
a strong cultural experience through our connections with the Cook Islands
Voyaging Society. They will be able to learn about the new vaka, while there
will also be a beach cleanup activity. The last time we held this event, the
students collected about 40 bags of rubbish.”
Gilbert said there
had been a “really strong response” from Cook Islands businesses who were willing
to donate their time for this week-long series of events.
“We’ve also had
really strong applications from the students. They’re very motivated and keen
to learn. On a personal level, it’s very exciting.”