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Jesse Armstrong, chief executive of Vaka Interactiv speaking at this year’s Disruptive by Nature conference.

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa needs to invest in youth now or in 10 years it won’t be prepared for the booming Māori population.

That’s the view of SME Youth Development Jade Chase, who organised this week’s Disruptive By Nature – the one-day conference designed to challenge our thinking, inspire and connect those who work with rangatahi.

“We have a rapidly growing Māori population. By 2038 the average age of Māori will be 28. Are we ready for that? If not, why not?”

Jade says it’s not something we should be arguing about.

“We don’t have a choice, we must do it,” she says.

“We have to change or we won’t be here in 10 years. Our babies now, aged 7 or 8, are the largest portion of our population. We need to develop programmes to suit that population. We need to invest now.”

She says Disruptive By Nature is an important event for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa kaimahi to learn from others working with young people – along with from young people themselves – about finding solutions “to some of the toughest problems in the youth space”.

“We have 88 kaimahi, 12 rangatahi reps and 14 community reps - including youth workers, counsellors, support workers, principals, planners. We will pull a paper together, co-designed to create innovative solutions,” she says.

“We will look at our programmes, our offerings, our credibility and pull together a business case to lift the mana of rangatahi within Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.”

Disruptive By Nature 2018 featured a day of workshops and guest speakers followed by a Dragon’s Den-style panel, a formal dinner and awards ceremony.

Guest speakers included Laura O’Connell Rapira, director of crowdfunded community campaigning organisation ActionStation and passionate community and youth advocate, entrepreneur and innovator Jesse Armstrong, chief executive of Vaka Interactiv, which develops culturally storytelling technology, and education futurist Frances Valintine, founder of The Mind Lab, which helps students and educators to develop applied digital knowledge and capability.

Jade says the business case which will be developed from Disruptive By Nature will be driven by our youth strategy, which is vital to the future of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

“Should youth be part of our future? They already are and they will be a bigger part of it over time and we need to be ready for that.”

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