Launched last year by Community Engagement Ranger Cat Ayres, the initiative brings together Wellingtonians aged 15-18 and is seeking to recruit 12 young people for its next intake beginning on 20 February.
Cat says the programme’s aim is to connect rangatahi, or youth, from diverse backgrounds with nature and help them develop the skills to turn their interests into action.
“As a globally recognised ecosanctuary based in the heart of Wellington, we are in an exciting position to be able to share our knowledge to empower young people and give them a platform to inspire others.
“Their voice is important, and we aim to support them in learning a range of skills which they can take forward and opens them up to new possibilities for when they leave school.”
The programme, which embraces te ao Māori, has members learning about conservation through a range of behind-the-scenes experiences at Zealandia, while drawing on different staff members’ expertise to facilitate sessions on topics the young people are interested in learning about.
“We want it to be led by young people, so we empower them as much as possible to shape what the Youth Collective is,” Cat says.
In addition to learning more about local nature through practical activities, a lot of the importance will be placed on skills around working together: teamwork, and collaboration.
“Towards the final third of the programme, they’ll be able to take what they learnt and choose how to create it into something they can share with other people.”
The Youth Collective will run over three school terms, with the group meeting twice a month (on a Wednesday evening and a Saturday).
The programme is fully funded.