AFS NZ is delighted to announce our 3 scholarship winners for the AFS NZ delegation to the AFS Youth Assembly 2024! Read on to find out who they are, their AFS stories, and what kaupapa they will be taking to NYC this August. 


Who, where, what? 


Auckland, in recruitment, returnee to Denmark 2014, host sister, support and orientation volunteer. 

Meg: Christchurch, in human resources, returnee to Italy 2015, support volunteer and active member of AFS Christchurch team.


Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Tūranganui-a-Kiwa, studying Toi Māori at Toihoukura, climate justice/rainbow rights/mana wāhine activist, returnee to Brazil 2023, orientation volunteer.


What themes of the Youth Assembly are you most interested in? Why?


Maddy: Save our Planet: Unite for Climate Action; Global Shocks: Tackling Humanitarian Crises

As a rangatahi Māori, I know we are the kaitiaki, or custodians, of the land, and so my involvement with the themes comes from within, comes from my deep respect for Papatūānuku, our earth mother, and comes from being born of a culture that works to balance the give and the take from the land. 

It is profoundly important to me that there is a future for our children that is kind, that is fair, that has human rights for all. It is imperative that we look after the planet to ensure there are still enough resources for the generations to come. And the solutions to these issues are often intertwined, so we really must unite to tackle humanitarian crises and climate change all over the world.

I currently work in recruitment, within a brand called Tau Mai, that helps uplift Māori and place them in permanent employment. So seeing affirmative action and positive outcomes for my people, is always at the forefront for me. It is my every day, and so it is always a mission for me to uplift indigenous and oppressed voices any way I can.” 

Meg: Future of Education: Leveraging Technology & Innovation; Global Shocks: Tackling Humanitarian Crises

“I believe education needs to be accessible to everyone and finding innovative ways to ensure we address the diversity of learning needs is fundamentally important. I have a Master’s degree in Child & Family Psychology and have worked in the education sector as a tutor, disability advisor and learning assessor. I am currently training to be a SPELD NZ assessor, working with people with specific learning disabilities and administering educational assessments. I have always been passionate about education and supporting others. Understanding the ways in which technology can enhance educational outcomes is important to me when it comes to addressing the future of education. 

Elspeth: Save our Planet: Unite for Climate Action; Global Shocks: Tackling Humanitarian Crises

“He aha te mea nui mo te ao?

He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata. 

Growing up in a ‘small’ coastal town in Aotearoa you seem like your voice is small and unimportant, but everything still affects you. As an international citizen, I feel it is my responsibility to be more involved in not only my future, but the future for my tamariki, my mokopuna, my iwi and my hapori. The way the world is going at the moment is alarming and I often feel like we are left out of the decisions that will affect the life we all know and live. But this will also affect the life I aspire to give to my future whānau. I want to have a say and a voice in what we do and how we go about it to give them a good, safe and secure way of living because we have so much knowledge built into us as Māori and as tāngata whenua.

I have worked with hapori in our area, talking about the effects of climate change in the area and ways to improve and prevent the incoming damage if nothing is changed. I am also currently writing letters to the government and recently spoke at a select committee hearing opposing the Fast Track Bill on behalf of Tāiki E!  Next Gen – all of these things could affect the environment and community negatively in the years to come.”


Why do you want to attend?

Maddy: “I just want to be a part of something bigger. I want to hear what young people think about the issues we face and will continue to face – I want to discuss ideas with those who might agree with me and those who might not. I want to find out if people are feeling as hopeless as I am and if they have solutions. I want to work on the solutions together. I want to hear from young people around the world and maybe derive some inspiration from them. I want to make connections with people who I hope share the same dreams as me for what our future could look like. I want to start building that future or at least meet more architects of a better tomorrow.”

Meg: “It will be wonderful to engage with people from all over the world because there will be diverse cultures bringing a variety of knowledge, perspectives and experiences. The Youth Assembly would be a great opportunity to learn from each other, gain valuable insights into youth activism and have meaningful discussions on challenging topics. I would also hope to broaden my understanding of global issues, the role we can play in addressing them, and ways to create positive change in my community.”  

Elspeth: “Because we have a lot to say and I feel like Youth Assembly will not only open so many doors for not only myself, but so many of my whānau and e hoa that have a lot of important kaupapa but that often feel misheard. I want to bring knowledge back from our whānau across the world, to learn from like minded people that want to be included in the conversations of tomorrow. To learn from other rangatahi about their countries and their projects, and to present Māori and whakaaro Māori on an international level in and amongst other like minded peers that are wanting to do good for the world and its people no matter where they come from and no matter what their status.”

You can follow along with Maddy, Meg and Elspeth on Instagram @afsnz as they take NYC by storm in August!