Youth Leadership

Youth Leadership





"I do this work to make sure that no child feels the pain I felt. And when I reflect on that, it's clear to me that if the people I am doing this work for are youth, then it is them I must do this work with. There is no other way."

YCA Leadership

Get to know us

We’re taiohi whai ora (young people in pursuit of health), and we work with the Mental Health Sector to make things better. Our employer, Whāraurau, is the organisation that trains and supports everyone that works with children and young people (referred to as rangatahi from here on). We get to influence how they do that, and we also get to talk to local and international leaders about how to ensure all rangatahi thrive.

There is one big problem with this. We’re just a small group of people, and it’s impossible for us to represent all of the different perspectives young people have. We want to change that. But to do it, we need you.

Wanna get involved? 


Taiohi share their views

DMC 2021  Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland

DMC 2019  Ōtepoti | Dunedin

Younger than 25? 

DMC - Deep Meaningful Conversations

The DMCs are an opportunity for rangatahi who’ve experienced mental health challenges to come together and reimagine mental health in Aotearoa New Zealand. This project started in 2019, and since then we’ve created videos and written reports to share what we’ve learnt.

To read what rangatahi are saying, read about our latest report: He Mana Taiohi: Understanding Mana Motuhake (2021) below; and our guide to Youth-Informed Transformation (2019) 

  • Keen to be part of future DMCs?
  • Are you younger than 25? Have you struggled with your mental health?
  • We want to hear from you!
  • We want to know what you love and what you hate. 
  • More than anything, we want to know what you would change. 

That’s why we’ve started DMC. The DMCs are a series of workshops where young people who know how bad things can be, get together to talk about how things could be better. We think having these DMCs will:

  1. Create a national network of young people.
  2. Generate a consensus about what young people care about.
  3. Support young people to make their dreams a reality. 
  4. Put the perspectives of young people at the centre of health & wellbeing decisions.
  5. Allow us (YCAs) to actually represent you.
  6. And eventually, create an Aotearoa New Zealand where all young people thrive.


Join the movement here.

He Mana Taiohi - Understanding Mana Motuhake

It is with great pleasure that the youth team at Whāraurau presents to you the 2021 DMC Report: He Mana Taiohi: Understanding Mana Motuhake

This report is a summary of perspectives from rangatahi with lived-experience about mental health services. Major themes include navigating meaningful relationships amongst social media, the impact of gender roles, and accessing care. This report also has a detailed visual design of the ideal service, for which we hope inspires you towards making your youth spaces as inviting as possible.

This report would not have been possible without the rangatahi youth who came forward and shared their experiences. It is to them that we dedicate this document.

Thank you in advance for reading this report! If you have any questions, please direct them to the YCA  team:
[email protected]

Nāku noa, nā

Sammie Dudley (She/Her)
Youth Consumer Advisor

2021 DMC Report Cover: He Mana Taiohi - Understanding Mana Motuhake

YCA banner

Work in a service? 

Improving youth participation

The best services are part of their community, and place the fundamental values of the whānau they serve at the heart of their practice. Ensuring rangatahi and broader whānau are part of your decision-making is central to becoming one of these services. So how do you do it?

There are lots of ways! Our job is to help you answer this question in a way that works for you. You could:

► Employ a Youth Consumer Advisor

A Youth Consumer Advisor (YCA) is the bridge between the young people that use a service, and decision-makers within the health sector. They work to collect the experiences of young people, and use these to advise on proposed projects. YCAs bring their own experience of using services, and lend creativity and passion to their work. They can play an essential role in connecting services across a region, and even help to build an effective ecosystem of care. If you’d like to explore what employing a YCA could entail, take a look at the toolkit to employ a YCA:

•  Employing a YCA - Toolkit
This includes templates for a Job Description, Job Ad and Poster as well as guidance on things like pay and hours.

•  Starting as a YCA - Toolkit  (new version coming soon)

Once a YCA has been employed, we take an active role in helping them settle in. To achieve this we connect new YCAs with experienced YCAs to allow for mentorship, produce a guide introducing them to the role and are currently working on podcasts, so watch this space.

► Set up a Youth Advisory Group (YAG)

Youth Advisory Groups (YAGs) are a formal way to collect qualitative feedback about a service. As a young person nears the end of their time in a service, inviting them to join a YAG can give them the opportunity to reflect on their time there, make friends with people that shared their journey, and to provide feedback and guidance that changes things for the young people that follow them. A well run YAG can contribute to a young person's journey of healing and self-discovery, while also ensuring a service is able to constantly improve.

•  Starting & Running a YAG - Toolkit  (coming soon)

► Run one-off consultations

While this isn’t a sustainable model of engagement, it can be a useful way to collect feedback on a big or sudden change. Because you won’t have time to build relationships with the young people you’re consulting, our best advice is to get help. The following guide provides our advice on how to pull a one-off consultation off:

•  Consulting with Young People - Toolkit  (coming soon)


If you’d like to explore either of these options further, consider alternatives, or work with us to promote opportunities, drop us a line at [email protected]

Resources for Youth Consumer Advisors

We work to support YCAs across the country by creating resources, providing mentorship, and sharing their journey in their role. To do this, we facilitate NYCAN, the National Youth Consumer Advisor Network. If you’re a young person with experience of mental health challenges, and your role calls on you to use that experience to influence decisions, then you’re a YCA, and we’re here to help.

You can download our YCA Guide for new YCAs by clicking on the cover or on the link below. If you'd like to request a copy, please email [email protected]

If you’re new to the YCA gig, there are three things you’ll want to do:

  1. Download our YCA Guide for new YCAs
  2. Chuck us an email at [email protected]
  3. Give the YCA Podcasts a listen (coming soon)

YCA Guide cover

Youth-approved resources

"If you're looking to codesign systems with young people, start when they walk in the door to your service. Go 'Hey, I'm really glad you've come to see me today. What do you need?' Start by codesigning their care, and if what they need is not something you can give them, find them someone that can."

This is where we share resources we create, as well as ones we stumble across that we think are great.

Resources for making your service better

Resources for rangatahi