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Article – Deputy Mayor Lawrence Kirby

30 Aug 2023, 8:54 AM

First published in the Kāpiti News on Wednesday 30 August 2023

Kāpiti is known as a District with a high number of people in our community over the age of 65 – in fact 26% of our population compared to 16% nationally. This part of our Kāpiti story often dominates the conversations around our District and significantly, Council just last week, passed our Age Friendly Approach that will influence all our work going forward. You’ll see and hear more of that approach.

Interestingly, while over 65 make up 26%, about the same percentage of our population is aged between 0-25 years old. Young people are a significant part of our community and need to be a significant part of Kāpiti’s story too.

Last week, the Mayor called a Youth Hui for anyone working with young people. The Council Chambers was full with over 40 people from a range of different organisations, groups and government departments. Most importantly, we had some young people present to bring the voice of our rangatahi to the table.

We all came together to have a conversation about the young people of Kāpiti. Kāpiti has experienced some disturbing and saddening incidents over the years that have involved young people. Unfortunately, we continue to face these kinds of incidents including some recently around the Paraparaumu train station. These incidents were not just in Kāpiti, there have been a spate of similar incidents around the Wellington region at train stations.

While we need to address these incidents urgently (and some ongoing work is happening), I was also conscious, while listening to the youth in the room speak, that the majority of those under 25 in Kāpiti are generally unheard and predominately unseen unless you go to the many schools and colleges, we have across Kāpiti. They are a significant part of our community and I celebrate them -the life and energy they contribute to the Kāpiti Coast District.

While no direct plans were made during this hui, I left encouraged that our conversation had reminded everyone present of the need we all have for caring community, for connection, and our responsibility to be part of creating that for others.