Youth want a voice
Liaison worker aims to make it happen
Being young is hard, something Porirua’s new youth development co- ordinator remembers well.
Dee Hikario, 33, was hired in mid-June by Porirua City Council to be a liaison between the council and young people.
Her mission is to give young people a voice and an identity, something she struggled to find as a teenager.
‘‘For me adolescence was the hardest time in my life. Dealing with my identity, where I fitted in in the world, in my family, in the community,’’ she says.
‘‘Having a voice is one thing but being proud makes you feel really valued. It’s so important that we value our young people because, gosh, who are going to be our next councillors and mayors?’’
Ms Hikario’s primary task will be growing and facilitating Porirua’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG), which engages with the council on issues affecting youth. The group is just finding its feet again after floundering since April 2011 when the last youth development officer died suddenly.
‘‘Because this role hasn’t been filled for so long, it kind of feels like we’re starting all over again with YAG.’’
The group is in the middle of a heavy recruitment drive and Ms Hikario hopes to grow its number from six members to 18.
She has been impressed by members’ enthusiasm and passion.
‘‘I was really blown away actually. It wasn’t what I expected. It’s really great to work with young people who are keen to have a voice and say what matters to them,’’ she says.
‘‘They’re all from different walks of life and have different experiences, and I think that’s the key thing to acknowledge with our young people – they all experience life differently but they still deserve a voice in what’s happening to them in the city.’’
Ms Hikario grew up in Dunedin and has spent her whole career working with youth. After high school she became heavily involved in kapa haka, tutoring and touring with young performers. She was a sexual health educator in the Hutt for four years and last year was a care worker in a CYF group home.
The CYF job was emotionally draining, so Ms Hikario jumped at the youth development role, which suited her – ‘‘pretty much to a tee, almost like it was created for me’’, she says.
Young people aged 15 to 24 interested in jointing YAG can contact Dee Hikario on 021 175 7616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications close July 27.
Future stars: Porirua’s new youth development officer Dee Hikario, right, aims to nurture Porirua’s future leaders by giving them a voice and an identity. She is with, from left, Porirua City councillor Bronwyn Kropp and Youth Advisory Group members Asaph Verner, Aziel Verner, Nopera Dennis-McCarthy and Jewelz Kilino.