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Empowerment Through Unity: Rangatira’s Leadership Odyssey 2023

By November 23, 2023Event, Schools

In the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua was the site of a significant gathering. This gathering was a celebration. A celebration of people, dreams and the tools to make these dreams a reality.  From 24-26th September , the grounds of Rotorua Boys’ High School echoed with the voices, laughter and determination of New Zealand’s emerging leaders, converging for one sole purpose: Rangatira 2023.

What is Rangatira?

‘Rangatira’ is the term that beautifully combines Māori words – raranga (to weave) and tira (a group of people) together.  Rangatira was chosen because it signifies ‘leader’, someone destined to unify people towards a shared aspiration. Aptly named, the Rangatira conference has a rich tradition of doing just that – crafting leaders who can seamlessly bring both people and whole communities together.

Over A Decade of Leadership Impact

Tracing back to 2012, three visionary Year 12 students from Rotorua Boys’ High School attended the yLead Australian Student Leadership Conference in Brisbane.  The students identified an absence of local transformative leadership experiences like the yLead conference they attended, so fuelled with the desire to make a change, the boys (Kelsey Crew, Liam Hae Hae, and Shaquille Graham) returned home with a vision of replicating the event on home soil. By the end of that same year, with the support of Super 8 schools, Rangatira was born.

Its legacy continues today and Rangatira is a celebration of great people and great ideas to change the world.

Fast forward to 2023, and Rangatira has marked 11 years of nurturing, empowering, and guiding the finest of NZ’s young leaders. This not only underscores our commitment to youth leadership, but also the unwavering spirit of senior school leaders in New Zealand.


This three-day residential conference was curated intentionally for Year 12 student leaders transitioning into Year 13 leadership roles. Here’s a glimpse of what transpired:

  1. Personal Growth: Through introspective sessions, students embarked on a journey of self-discovery. The outcome? Enhanced self-awareness, amplified self-worth, and fortified self-belief.
  2. Essential Leadership Skills: Interactive workshops equipped attendees with vital leadership tools – from effective communication to conflict resolution, focusing on passion, vision, growth, service and integrity.
  3. Community Impact: Inspired by real-life stories and hands-on activities, students returned home with a renewed zest to make a tangible difference in both their schools and communities.
  4. Goal Setting & Action Planning: Empowering students to envision their future, they chalked out clear and actionable roadmaps for their leadership journey ahead.
  5. Networking: Beyond skills and inspiration, Rangatira offered students the invaluable opportunity to connect with a diverse group of peers. These connections, often transcending the conference, have the potential to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

Meet Our Epic Guest Speakers:

Two incredible guest speakers joined us this year: Te Manaia Jennings and Krissy Mackintosh. Both guest speakers allowed all participants, facilitators and volunteers the opportunity to learn about people in our world making a genuine difference driven by their passions, values and morals.

Te Manaia Jennings

Firstly, Rangatira was privileged to introduce the talented Te Manaia Jennings. Te Manaia is not just an artist, but a storyteller who uses her brushstrokes to initiate vital conversations about mental health. A Rotorua local, her artwork is primarily focused on the empowerment of women, mirroring her own personal journey to self-discovery and mental wellbeing.

Through her art and advocacy, Te Manaia insists that facing adversity only makes us stronger. Her potent blend of creativity and courage makes her an influential voice in the community, especially for youth.

Krissy Mackintosh

Next, we got to hear the stories and teachings of a pioneering advocate for men’s mental health, Krissy Mackintosh. Krissy is steering change in the Tairawhiti region and across New Zealand. Through her initiative #Hear4U, she and her dedicated team offer a holistic approach to mental health challenges that incorporates dialogue, fitness, and community engagement.

From raising funds to organising wellbeing events, Krissy’s multifaceted efforts emphasise listening, engagement, acceptance, respect and unity. Her work is a beacon for those learning to navigate mental health challenges and serves as an impactful platform for shared experiences.

Both individuals left a huge impact on all who were fortunate enough to listen in on their stories and knowledge. Find out more about the speakers, their stories and their initiatives, by heading over to our speaker blog and learning about the outstanding impact they had on this year’s Rangatira cohort!

Highlights from the Team:

It is also essential to celebrate the tremendous efforts of such an amazing leadership team, who allowed this conference to run so smoothly.

With lead facilitators Jack Smith-Ballingall, Eliot Fenton and our very own George Conlon and Zoe Meredith-Brown at the helm, the conference was in great hands! Our Leader’s Leader was Christian Baledrokadroka, and her dream team Gurus were none other than Chloe McGrath and Melaia Kolibasoga.

We also had a team of eight fabulous mentors, helping guide the event towards success! The team included:

Caitlin Oschadleus Abbotsleigh 2019

Cameron Brans Napier Boys HS 2023

Jade Simpson Hamilton Girls HS 2023

Joe Nagera Rotorua Boys HS 2018

Jono Pinckney Napier Boys HS 2023

Josh Ellingham Palmerston North Boys HS 2019

Michaela Deegan New Plymouth Girls 2023

Pearl Lauderdale-SmithNew Plymouth Girls HS 2023

Rotorua is such a special place. Rangatira is such a special time of the year. The participants, the guest speakers and the team made this a conference we will never forget. We are forever grateful for the efforts of everyone who volunteered their time and effort to make Rangatira so special. What an amazing team – congratulations again!

A Bright Future Ahead:

In 2023, we’re not just celebrating another successful Rangatira conference; we’re celebrating the continual legacy of leadership in New Zealand. To the aspiring leaders of tomorrow, our message is this: the Rangatira tradition thrives, and we invite you to be a part of this ever-evolving journey.

To every student, educator, and supporter who’s been a part of Rangatira, thank you for weaving together a brighter future for New Zealand. Here’s to many more years of leadership, growth, and impact!