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Celebrating 10 years of Rangatira!

It’s hard to believe a decade has passed since yLead first ventured down to the land of the long white cloud for the inaugural Rangatira conference, and in 2021 we are so excited to be celebrating 10 YEARS of impact in New Zealand! Rangatira has empowered 686 students from across the North Island over the last decade, and we’re sure each of those students can testify that the impact from their Rangatira experience was nothing short of memorable!


In celebration of this milestone, we thought we would check-in with some of our past Rangatira participants-turned-mentors, to comment and reflect on their Rangatira experiences. A massive shoutout to Oliver, Kiara, Christian, Callum, Josh and Scarlett for taking time to share their experiences with us and never failing to go above and beyond; volunteering their time to mentor at Rangatira each year, ensuring students continue to be afforded the same valuable experience they were.

What is a statement to describe your Rangatira experience?

“Rangatira was a turning point in my life. It is a space and a specific time that I can point to and know that my leadership was truly ignited there.”

“Attending Rangatira was one of the most impactful experiences I have had in my life. As someone who has had the privilege of attending a variety of leadership conferences, I can confidently say that this conference is a cut above the rest. Rangatira made me realise that leadership manifests itself in different ways and taught me how to harness the unique strengths I have so that I can make the biggest impact possible. Despite attending the conference three years ago, I use a variety of the skills that I learnt in my everyday life. From learning how to nail an impromptu speech to forming personal connections with both mentors and participants, Rangatira has provided me with an experience that I will never forget. I truly hope that as many students as possible also get to experience this life-changing conference.”

“The experience was uplifting. Realising that there are so many like-minded people, and not just ‘leaders’ in it for the badge but people actually looking to do good for good.”

“Life changing would be an understatement. The conference itself goes through teachings and lessons that address not only everyone’s vision for growth in leadership aspects, but also their own personal growth. These lessons are passed on through workshops that allow students to actively engage and be a part of the conference, as opposed to just being spoken to. This has major impacts as students are able to see the lessons physically, which increases the awareness and understanding of the positive lessons. For me, this was a game-changer as I was then able to apply the teachings to my own scenarios as I understood the extent in which the lessons had value. Examples of such include understanding the importance of collaboration, becoming aware of what my strengths are and then how can I apply these strengths, are lessons that carry even more value for me today in university and applying for jobs. Not only did this process give me major takeaways that I was able to use, the environment in which the conference is run in is even more special. The contrast of individuals walking in on day one to a community and family walking out on day 3 is no understatement due to the energy, the positivity, and the appreciation and love for one another that is uncovered during the conference. This was an environment and experience that is still unmatched to any other.”

Rangatira 2020

Rangatira 2016

Day One of Rangatira explores the idea that leadership begins from within.

Christian, how, when and where have you used that understanding of self in your personal and professional life? 

“The idea that ‘leadership begins within’ is an empowering thought that draws me back to my core values and the driving ‘why’ of my leadership.”

“I am privileged to work, serve and lead in high-paced environments such as my place of work the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and my church Equippers Auckland City. In these spaces, I journey in community, I lead people of all ages and speak life into them especially rangatahi, and day-in and day-out I am empowered to demonstrate the core of who I am as a person by serving from my heart. By understanding that it is my values and the vision I hold in my heart; to love and serve others, that drive my leadership, I can lead in everything I do, with everything I have. In acknowledging that my leadership stems from this place; my heart, my inner person and inner WHY, and not from a role or a badge, I am a greater leader and person in every way.”

The theme of Day Two is “Together Has Power”; guiding students to understand that leadership is not just about self, but rather how you lead and collaborate with others. 

Scarlett, are there elements of Rangatira that have helped you to discover the value of teams/teamwork/and how does it apply in your everyday life now…

“Team work is something you have to use literally every day; for me now it’s flatting or group work at uni. Learning to establish attainable and measurable group goals is ESSENTIAL! And of course making sure everyone is heard and feels comfortable with group decisions.”

Day Three focuses on the idea that leadership is action. Taking action can be challenging, particularly when you don’t know where to start or the goals you wish to set.

Kiara, are there goal setting methods you learnt at Rangatira that you use within a university context?

“One of the most valuable tools I learnt at Rangatira was how to set SMART goals. As a second year university student I have noticed that the jump from school to university is massive and can be overwhelming at times. With the stresses of flatting, extracurriculars and academics, I find that using the SMART acronym to set goals is very useful as it turns goals that seem impossible into manageable tasks. By breaking down the larger goals that I have and setting myself specific targets, I find that I am able to manage my time more efficiently and can hold myself accountable when I am not achieving what I set out to do.”

Rangatira provides a holistic approach to leadership, equipping students for year 13 and beyond, teaching them skills to carry into their school, social, personal and professional lives.

Josh, How did you apply what you learnt at Rangatira to your school leadership?

“I learnt many tangible skills at the conference which I was able to use as a school leader. Such skills included identifying my different strengths and weaknesses, as well as fellow participants at my school, which allowed me to see how best I contribute to a team environment. It also helped me understand the motives of others around me. Other valuable aspects of the conference were impromptu speaking and forming a tangible action plan to take back to school and implement as Year 13 students. This answered real questions such as how we would make an impact on our school as leaders. Finally, the most important learning I took from Rangatira was the confidence to venture outside my comfort zone. This was very rewarding and in doing so, subconsciously allows others to step outside of theirs!”

Callum, what is a lesson that you learnt at Rangatira that better equipped you in the future, moving into the workplace?

“It would probably be how to talk to myself. I was always a very pessimistic person towards myself if things didn’t go my way, or I didn’t get selected for a team. Rangatira taught me a lot about mental resilience and that it’s okay to fail.”

Oliver, are there any initiatives that you ran off the back of Rangatira or skills that you learnt that impacted your community in a positive way?

“Rangatira heavily impacted the way in which our prefect group was run. Having six of us return from Rangatira to our prefect group allowed us to implement and integrate skills we had been taught to benefit how the prefect group operated. The simplest of these included running efficient meetings that had purpose and allowed us to address issues in a positive but constructive manner. By learning how to run events and start initiatives at Rangatira we were able to increase the number of inter-house sports initiatives which increased the cohesion between year levels. However, the most impactful lesson we took away from Rangatira that impacted our community, was the realisation of how easily positivity can be spread. The prefects lead with positivity which lead to our school competitions being more involved and big than ever and crowds were seen at all school sports matches.”

This feeling of empowerment is rare – it is something so surreal that I want everyone to feel it... While the skills learnt are valuable, I think it is the feeling of inspiration which highlights the importance of yLead and Rangatira.

Josh Elligham

Why do you think it is important that students have an opportunity to attend Rangatira?

“At some point during the conference, you will experience a moment where time seems to stop, and you feel like Rangatira is the place on earth you are supposed to be at this point in time. I experienced a real sense of belonging. The love and energy you feel is real, a feeling which sends shivers down your spine. This feeling of empowerment is rare – it is something so surreal that I want everyone to feel it. It was this feeling that fuelled my drive and passion to try and make and forge an atmosphere of unity and connection in my school community as a Year 13 leader. While the skills learnt are valuable, I think it is the feeling of inspiration which highlights the importance of yLead and Rangatira.”

“I believe it is important that students have the opportunity to attend Rangatira as there is no other conference that seamlessly weaves learning practical skills together with experiencing an immense amount of personal growth. Rangatira allows for likeminded individuals to come together and share what truly matters to them, developing strong, lasting personal connections. At times you are pushed out of your comfort zone and have to take a deep look into yourself. I found this to be a very meaningful aspect of the conference, never having experienced anything like this before. I have no doubt that by attending Rangatira with a number of other students from my school, we were able to build and maintain a much more successful leadership team in our final year of school. I truly cannot recommend Rangatira enough.”

“Awareness. One of the most unique things about Rangatira is the awareness you gain of what kind of person you are, what strengths you have, and what goals you really have for yourself. I think it is incredibly important that students have an opportunity to be in an environment that supports and allows them to gain this awareness. This has huge impacts as it allows students to help their communities and empower others as they understand in what way they can best do this. This is due to them gaining confidence in who they are and where their power lies. I think it is incredibly important that students have an opportunity to attend Rangatira as I learnt more about myself than I have ever done before; in an environment that was first confronting but then embracing, and I wish for them to have the opportunity to grow in the same way that I did and continue to do. Rangatira is truly a place that offers teachings and lessons that are not offered anywhere else, period.”

“Rangatira is a movement amongst young people in Aotearoa that allows people from all communities and walks of life to be in a space where they are the sole focus -their leadership, their journey, their well-being, their lives and their future are at the heart of the entire programme. There are not many opportunities for young people (from across the motu) to come together for a conference that exists to honour and build THEM up.

Rangatira is very intentional as a Conference. Choosing year 12 students as our target point is done intentionally, Rangatira being held at Rotorua Boys’ High School to honour legacy is intentional, bringing together the central North Island (for now) is intentional, the workshops we run are intentional, the mentor team we choose and develop over time are purposed for this movement -this conference is created with a lot of thought, heart, and integrity in order to empower rangatahi to step up and step out to impact change in their worlds.

I believe that it is important that rangatahi of Aotearoa to have the opportunity to step into this space because it has been created with them specifically in mind. Our next generation deserve to take part in an opportunity where their growth is at the heart of the work we do. I truly believe that our youth need this Conference, and they will leave with a greater confidence in themselves and vision for their lives if they get to attend.”

Rangatira is truly a place that offers teachings and lessons that are not offered anywhere else, period.

Oliver Burns