14 June 2022

Who do you see?

When we asked young people in Taranaki what they thought about the future of local government, they replied in the form of a short video. “Do you see us?” outlines what is important to young people, their feelings towards the current form of local governance in New Zealand, and their wish for action.

Who do you see?

Chai Ruakere-Forbes (Te Atiawa) and Malakai Latavao who is of Tongan descent, created the short film after conducting focus groups with youth to discuss attitudes and opinions about local government.

“The message that came across from the focus groups was that the youth didn’t feel heard, so we knew that that was what we needed to get across,” said 17-year-old director Chai.

Both students were excited to have the chance to convey the perspectives of young people. “It was really encouraging knowing that there was a demand for the project we were creating, the fact that the Review wanted our feedback, whether it was good or bad, showed us that we had a way of voicing our concerns,” said 18-year-old film coordinator Malakai.

Focus groups brought issues to light

After the focus groups, Chai and Malakai worked to condense the kōrero into one compelling message. Many points had been raised but the overriding message was that young people didn’t feel that they were seen by council or that rangatahi voices were reflected in council decisions.

“We decided to go with a simple but very clear message: do you see us? We used this statement throughout the film, showing a diverse range of young people in various situations – from positive imagery of young surfers and dancers, to scenes people may not want to see – fighting, crying and protesting. We wanted to show that all youth need to be seen and considered,” said Chai.

How the video is starting conversations

Do You See Us? has been shown to councillors and other stakeholders, as well as being released to the public via social media. The content has been effective in provoking conversations about how councils engage with youth, and what they can do to ensure that young people feel heard by their local representatives.

“Change, at the end of the day, is special. I don’t think a lot of young people get the opportunity to voice their opinions directly to the changemakers of society,” said Malakai.

The future for our filmmakers

Now, as a Year 13 at Spotswood College and recipient of a Ministry of Education Gifted Learners’ Award, Chai Ruakere-Forbes recently had the opportunity to work on a music video for Kiwi band The Black Seeds.

As a first-year student and recipient of a Pacific Excellence scholarship at Waikato University, Malakai Latavao is focused on his studies in communications and public relations.

An invitation to hear from rangatahi

We are committed to hearing from young people on the future system of local governance in Aotearoa. Our online engagement tool, Get Vocal in Your Local, is targeted at young people and asks for feedback on some of the big issues we’re looking into. It’s interactive and engaging and only takes five minutes to complete.