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The Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (PYLAT)

The Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (PYLAT)

The Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (PYLAT) are a Christchurch based Charity run by 14 Pacific young people. Their vision is a world well informed and influenced by Pacific young people, and they are on the journey through assisting Pacific youth to participate in democracy.

In 2010, the Christchurch Pasifika community and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples ran the first Pacific Youth Parliament, an event which simulated the parliamentary system. 46 Pacific young people came together for the event to share their ideas and suggestions for ways to make Aotearoa a better place. The information was collated and sent to then Prime Minister Rt Hon. John Key.

To keep up momentum after the event, a small group of attendees were elected to decide what to do next, and support a Second Pacific Youth Parliament (PYP2). On 21st February 2011, they had their final planning meeting in the city centre at the former IRD Building on Cashel St, completely unaware that the most devastating earthquake would hit the region the following day, and postpone PYP2 indefinitely.

Riki Welsh, the first Chair of PYLAT, encouraged the group to continue meeting throughout this period even when at times it felt like there was nothing to meet about. Overtime it became clear that the strong friendships of the PYLAT members were a crucial support through the challenges of that time. In their closeness, it is also helped them see the need to ensure a strong Pacific youth voice spoke into the rebuild and regeneration of the region. This led the team to start an discussion series where Pacific young people could interact with decision makers called iSPEAK, ensuring Pacific youth voices were continuing to speak into democracy.

The team saw the need for a more permanent voice of this kind which led them to formally register as a Charitable Trust. After running iSPEAK for two years on topics such as deep sea oil drilling, the living wage and the war in Iraq and the Levant , both the team, and the region were in a place where it was possible to run bigger things. In 2017 PYLAT hosted PYP2 where 98 Pacific young people participated to share their visions for our country and world. In addition to events, PYLAT assist pacific young people to run their own leadership development projects, run training sessions on engaging with Pacific young people, and advise on best practise Pacific youth engagement on 16 boards across Aotearoa.

PYLAT have received wide-ranging support from DIA throughout their seven year journey.