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Giving young leaders the tools and support to start and grow together

Saturday 15 April 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Education, National

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Giving young leaders the tools and support to start and grow together

More than 50 school students from the Cook Islands, New Zealand and Australia will converge on Rarotonga for a leadership programme.

The group will take part in multiple exercises under the umbrella of the Future Leaders Academy.

Alumni Joel Taylor said seven staff members with four syndicate leaders will lead Year 12 and 13 students who have proven leadership potential.

The cost is mainly covered by each individual student and many students fundraise to help cover their course costs.

The fees for Cook Islands students are heavily subsidised.

“This is through things like approaching their schools, using a crowdfunding website or contacting a community organisation as well as offering their services in return for a donation,” Taylor said.

Future Leaders Academy Founder programme manager Jethro Gilbert said the programme is a week-long course happening in Rarotonga from 15 to 23 April that sees young people from across the Cook Islands, Australia and New Zealand come together to develop their personal and team leadership skills through fun, unique, hands-on activities.

“We want to equip these identified young leaders with the skills and qualities to be more effective in their school and community roles and prepare them for their future team leadership endeavours.”

Araura College student Esther David flew in from Aitutaki ahead of the New Zealand and Australian students.

She said she is looking forward to a week of challenges, while building confidence and making new contacts.  

Their schedule will be busy as it includes a cross mountain hike(The Needle), business visits (These include Vodafone (Monday), BSP (Tuesday), Air NZ (Wednesday), Island Craft, (Thursday), cooking activity(umu), a beach clean-up, environmental experience, syndicate group projects, island survivor activity and a workshop at Gallery Tavioni.

There are 28 New Zealand students, six Australian students and 22 Cook Islands students taking part.  

Gilbert said the mission statement is to strengthen the South West Pacific by developing effective junior leaders and strong future networks, through facilitating a community of connection, culture, experiential development, adventure, and leading by example, while developing capacity.

Future Leaders Academy is an organisation that focuses on developing leaders in the Pacific – so their courses this year are going to Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. 

“Giving leaders the tools and support to start and grow in their role is extremely important, as their actions are influential, are responsible for the well-being and outputs of their team, and are entrusted to achieve the visions of their organisation,” Gilbert said.  

“Combining these tools with cultural traditions and connection takes our training to a whole new level.

“We want to equip these identified young leaders with the skills and qualities to be more effective in their school and community roles and prepare them for their future team leadership endeavours.”

Future Leaders Academy was established in 2013, to deliver leadership development training and experiences.

Although the flagship programme is running advanced student leaders trips to the Pacific Islands, it also works with the New Zealand Government, schools, corporates and clubs.

Its team has a diverse background from the military, business, youth development, to government and international expeditions.