Marlborough’s mayor and an 18-year-old former college student have joined forces to help inspire leadership talents in each other.
Tane Henderson-Deakin is the first teenager to be chosen to take part in a special scheme aimed at developing leadership among young Maori.
And the mutual mentoring programme will also see mayor John Leggett tackle learning te reo Maori.
The pair will hold monthly meetings to learn new skills from each other and provide inspiration for future projects.
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It is the first time the Marlborough District Council has signed up to the rangatahi run leadership programme.
John says he hopes the one-to-one mentoring will be of benefit to both himself and Tane.
“I like to tell people that in Rotorua in the 1960s my first teacher was a very well-known Maori educationalist and we were immersed in multi-culture every day but te reo just wasn’t part of the curriculum then and is something my generation missed out on.
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“I am very keen to learn.”
The long-term initiative encourages mayors across New Zealand to select a young Maori candidate to help encourage and enhance their leadership skills.
John says the relationship provides both partners with the chance to gain a deeper insight into inter-generational issues, cultural values and experiences.
“Tane was recommended to us as a young man who has a lot of leadership material and already we’ve been talking and exchanging ideas.”
Tane, who works fulltime at a welding company in Blenheim, has just attended his first council meeting. He also takes an art class at Marlborough Boys’ College and plays rugby.
With a long-term goal to combine his love of wood-carving with a career in either mental health or youth mentoring, he says meeting with John has already been “rewarding”.
“I was a bit nervous as he’s the mayor but he and all the councillors I’ve been introduced to have been really welcoming.
“I want to learn from their expertise and knowledge. I’ve already been asked to look into a possible public art project and it’s been great to get an inside look at how it all works.”