Pacific Project; looking back at 2015

With Pacific Project applications due to open immenently, hear about one delegate’s experiences from the 2015 trip. For more information visit and

Looking back on my experience of the Pacific Project 2015, those seventeen days were some of the most hectic, hilarious and valuable days of my life. From rapping about gender equality to discussing development in Vanuatu with the NZ High Commissioner, this trip pushed my limits and taught me a world of new things.

11214194_984649581596329_3061602171326787845_nUN Youth Australia National Conference was a vibrant week of workshops, Model United Nations, group projects and games that brought 90 high-schoolers together to engage with today’s important global issues. The huge range of activities (many of which are still to be introduced in UN Youth New Zealand conferences) suited a range of interests and personalities, whether through making secret deals in a simulation game or giving passionate speeches in General Assembly. Participating in these activities definitely helped me develop my negotiating and debating skills, as well as teaching me a lot about how countries and communities interact.

Aside from the expected results of spending time with Australians (adjusting to intense AFL rivalries, Aussie slang, and the inevitable sheep banter), for me National Conference was an amazing way to meet people. By the end of the week, I’d made a network of friends that will last for years to come. As sad as I was to see National Conference end, I left with a mind buzzing with new ideas, a broader view of the world, and a couch to sleep on in every state in Australia.

While National Conference was a mental challenge, our touchdown in Vanuatu was a challenge to the heart, as we saw the aftermath of Cyclone Pam’s devastation and met local people whose lives had been affected by the disaster.

It was inspiring to be able to meet and work with NGOs who were working towards the rebuild, and to assist them with community projects in Vanuatu. These included helping to distribute chicks and seedlings to families, as well as visiting local kindergartens and schools to play games and run activities. One of my highlights was clearing a section in a remote village in order to make room for a new medical centre. It was undeniably hot and sweaty, but was truly satisfying to see the small positive difference we could make to the Cyclone Pam rebuild.

It was amazing in Vanuatu to learn about the local culture, language and religion. We stayed in a guesthouse in Pango Village, and were able to immerse ourselves in the local community and learn about their way of life: starting off with the rooster crowing in the morning, and finishing off with evening activities with the local kids. This resulted in not only some giant campfire sing-alongs but also featured some impressive beat-boxing from the local kids.

My experience at National Conference and Vanuatu had many differences, but both gave me a chance to think differently, care more about the world, and make new friends, wherever they are from. This experience even led me to move overseas and pursue a degree in international relations.

Apply for the Pacific Project. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


A Beginner’s Guide to International Relations

International Relations or IR as we ‘Academics’ (by which I mean “students trying to not go over a word count”) call it, is a cornerstone of UN Youth. There’s a simple reason for this: we spend days pretending to be countries, discussing and debating how to most effectively end the Syrian Civil War or reform the Security Council.

Students spend days and weeks studying their country’s position (or you know, go on Wikipedia the night before, that’s cool too) to present it properly, and to negotiate inter-state solutions to complex issues. Volunteers spend weeks researching the entirety of some complex issue in order to allow students to discuss it. Naturally, we’re the kind of people who are going to be attracted to deeper study of these issues.

However, for all the time that we spend discussing these things, very few people in UN Youth – whether students or volunteers – could actually tell you anything substantial about what IR is beyond “the study of countries and foreign policy”. I think this is really unfortunate.

547118 (1)Students leave our events with all the basic knowledge they would need to ace first year International Relations, but very few of them know the actual terms for what they’ve learned or how they all fit together. I know for me, the first time I sat down in a stage one international relations course I felt out of my depth when we started discussing theory. However I realised very quickly that the lecturer was just using big words to explain concepts and ideas that UN Youth had already shown me over the last two years. I went into university with the collective sum of two years, seven countries’ and far more topics’ worth of knowledge, but no understanding of what any of it really meant or how to use it in areas besides upsetting an entire room by being Syria in a committee on digital censorship.

So if you choose to continue the tradition and study International Relations, I’m going to give you a basic understanding of the concepts you’ve learned through UN Youth already so that you can hit the ground running at University. I’m going to keep this short and simple, going through an outline of what IR actually is, some different theories you’ll come across and an example of how to apply them.

What is IR?

International Relations is the study of how states act in the global arena. It’s been a
round a long time – its earliest roots are just after the Westphalian peace (1648) where modern nation-states start to come into existence (go look this up! It’s cool!) – but the bulk of study has been over122688 (1) the last few centuries. It aims to explain war, peace, alliances, militarisation, national interest, security and strategy (among other things), so is naturally a very broad field. It has an enormous amount of sub-fields as a result: you could focus on IR in a regional context, just for security, just for strategy, just to understand alliances – almost anything – and spend years on that one topic. It usually assumes states are stable (so domestic politics is irrelevant) and rational (they make sensible choices).

IR operates on what are called theories: frameworks that help to explain why a state would do something, rather than just saying “this is a thing that happened.” Try not to have a favourite framework, be prepared to challenge yourself and think about things in different ways. They’re all valid, and sometimes you need a mix to explain different events. These are some of the more common approaches:

  • Realism: Countries seek to maximise power and security, meaning they want to protect their “national interest” in the anarchy that is the global system.
  • Liberalism: Countries cooperate when it benefits themselves and aren’t inherently violent, and the UN is great and democracy is also great.
  • Constructivism: Countries are far too complicated to be lumped into either of the above, because they have histories and norms that shape their behaviour.
  • Critical theory: The international system naturally oppresses and marginalises group x, y or z, and is flawed because of Group A, B or C being in charge (Marxism and Feminism are the most common).
  • Post-modernism: We can never really know anything, and any narrative or critical theory is wrong because truth is a social construct.

88233All of these have upsides and downsides. Realism explains conflict and power-seeking well, but does a poor job of explaining international institutions. Liberalism explains institutions well, but downplays why conflict occurs, and is too young for a lot of its ideas to be tested. Constructivism is a bit of a cop-out, and some people say it isn’t even a theory but actually more of an approach to be taken to understanding individual states rather than the system. Critical theory is… critical; it basically says “the international system is inherently flawed; group X is oppressed, however global politics is on a relentless march towards the system shifting, so that group X will free of oppression, move away from the periphery and into the centre of the global stage”.  Critical theory can however be based on some pretty weak arguments.

It’s also right though: Poor countries are shoved aside and used for resources (Marxism), and women are drastically underrepresented in global leadership (Feminism). Post-modernist theory focuses a lot on theories and why they’re bad, but doesn’t do much to actually explain why things happen. No one theory can explain everything.

If we take a real-world example to apply these to, they start making a bit more sense. Let’s use the 2003-2011 Iraq War. I don’t even want to begin explaining all the causes, events and outcomes of the war here, so we’ll get more specific again and look at why the US chose to invade.

  • Realism: it was in the United States’ national interest to invade and depose Saddam Hussein. “National Interest” is an IR term with no clear meaning that basically means to their net benefit. In this case, it was about maintaining a secure Middle East post 9/11. The United States is what is called a global hegemon in Realism, and can exert authority in ways that other states can’t (like by leading an international army to i60973 (1)nvade a small, Middle Eastern country on pretty shaky grounds). They did it for their security and power maximisation.
  • Liberalism: Iraq’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction programme” (the only reason I’m even saying this is because people used it as a reason), Saddam Hussein’s harsh dictatorship and basically the way Iraq ran was an affront to global, liberalist philosophy and freedoms, and a threat to the common good. Invading Iraq was for the common good, and intended to install a democracy (because democratic states don’t go to war with each other and are generally just better according to some Liberalism).
  • Constructivism: the US’ norms and ideals shaped its identity as a sort of world policeman, so it was morally obliged to protect itself and the people of Iraq by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. It was also a direct response to 9/11.
  • Critical Marxism: Iraq is the proletariat to the bourgeois that is the United States. Any potential threat from the periphery can be responded to harshly and should be responded to in a way that makes a statement, and the core (developed countries) will face little reprisal. This was just Capitalism in action.60974 (1)
  • Critical feminism: I’m not even going to pretend to be an expert, but basically that a lack of women in US decision-making meant an inherently masculine approach, which means moving to conflict much earlier than what maybe should have happened. Even if a woman had been president, the system has been built up by men and works on masculine ideals.
  • Post-modernism: everything is a social construct and the war happened for a whole pile of small, hard-to-explain reasons that mostly have to do with social attitude and manipulation of the truth.

About 1000 words ago I said “I’m going to keep this short”. Famous last words indeed. In seriousness though, I could easily go on for a lot longer. International Relations is big, bulky, esoteric and dense, which is why the 100-level book at Victoria University is 400 pages long and basically explains what I wrote here(!).

It’s also a beautifully intricate area of study: everything and everyone in the world is intertwined into what you discuss. Having a handle on the most basic parts of IR – your theories – before you get to university is something that can help you make the most of the courses, and will make the first few weeks of your first year much less stressful.



Ash Stanley-Ryan is studying a Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts conjoint degree, majoring in International Relations and History. He is currently the UN Youth Wellington Vice-President for Universities and the incoming National Educations Officer in 2016.

Youth Dec photo for blog

Youth Declaration Nostalgia

6 months has passed since Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2015. Copies of the Declaration are now with MPs, the 2016 organising committee has been appointed and work has begun for 2016’s Youth Declaration. At the 6 month point, the pull of Aotearoa Youth Declaration nostalgia is strong.

AotearDeclarationoa Youth Declaration is a UN Youth NZ national event where over 200 young people from across the country come together to research, discuss and debate issues facing New Zealand, but from a youth perspective. Aotearoa Youth Declaration gives young people an opportunity to have their voices heard on public policies of New Zealand. At the end of the four day conference these debates, discussions and views are collated and created into a final document, the Youth Declaration, which is then presented to Members of Parliament.Declaration 2

Youth Declaration 2015 was out of this world. The atmosphere was electric. The Tikanga workshop was run by UN Youth volunteers this year. The hilarious, light-hearted nature, in which the educational content of the Tikanga workshop was delivered, was a highlight for many participants.  The show debate also provided many laughs which was an inevitable consequence of David Seymour and Marama Fox participating.  However, Quote of the debate went to Gareth Hughes from the negating team: “This is probably the first and last time I’ll be on the same side as David Seymour.”

“What excites me about the conference? My participants. Being able to meet and learn about the lives of so many people.” Melissa Gibson, Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2015 Registrations Officer.

On a personal level Aotearoa Youth Declaration has always been close to my heart – it was my first UN Youth event when I attended the 2014 conference. I was blown away by the event, organised to perfection, which provided a platform for youth voices to be heard. Attending Aotearoa Youth Declaration is an incredible experience and there’s not much that can top it.

Youth Dec Photo for Blog 2
“I know that the potential of Youth Declaration hasn’t peaked. There are so many ways to reach out to more young New Zealanders.” Gina Yukich, Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2015 Coordinator.

There are multiple ways to get involved with Youth Declaration. For high schoolers being a participant is the primary way to get involved, though initiatives like the online focus group has expanded that. I wish that I knew about Youth Declaration when I was in high school – sadly I didn’t. If you’re in high school right now I urge you to consider apply for Youth Declaration 2016. It is often lamented that there are very few avenues for young people to express an opinion on public policies, and Aotearoa Youth Declaration will give you this opportunity. It’s also an incredible opportunity to meet new people from all over the country, learn about how government policy affects everyday life, and to develop public speaking, and negotiation skills. The environment is an intimate one, and it’s incredibly satisfying to know that you’re part of something that decision makers in New Zealand respect.

For university students, Conference Assistants roles allow you to get involved, and make the conference as good as possible for the participants. The roles include everything from journalists to logistics officers to facilitators and much more. The diverse range of Conference Assistant roles available means there will always be a role tailored to your interests and skills. When I applied for Youth Declaration 2014 I had no prior UN Youth experience, which shows that selection being based on UN Youth experience is a myth. A successful application requires a strong application and demonstrating how your skills match the requirements of the conference assistant role you have applied for.

Registrations still aren’t open, but the dates have been confirmed. Make sure to mark it down in your calendars! Make sure not to miss out.

For more information have a look at the UN Youth website:

Who Are Young Influential New Zealanders?

Angela Lim

So I was just about to start blogging about volunteering in UN Youth, when I got distracted by this story on my facebook newsfeed; “25 most influential Kiwis 25 and under.” Not surprisingly the list had the usual celebrities: Lorde, Lydia Ko, KJ Apa and Steven Adams to name a few.  My eyes glazed over and I was about to exit the story when the name Angela Lim caught my eye.

I scanned through my brain trying to remember a celebrity called Angela Lim with no avail, so I read the bio provided.

“Studying at Harvard as a visiting research scholar, Malaysian-born Kiwi Angela Lim is on a mission to transform New Zealand’s health care system. She sits on multiple governance boards in the area of health care and is co-founder and chief executive of Catalyst Point, a company that helps hospitals deliver cost-effective care.” Whew, what a bio! I scrolled down further to discover some other young talented, unknown kiwis doing great things.

Influential lists reflect the narrow definition the world has of what it means to be influential and impactful today. In Time Magazine’s  “25 Most Influential Teens of 2014” Just 9 out of the 25 teens featured had achievements outside of entertainment, sport and achieving fame. Influential Lists promote the ideology that having an impact and being influential is solely confined to achieving in sport and entertainment. If a famous and prestigious magazine like Time only had 9 teens who achieved outside of entertainment and sport what does that say to young people? If you’re not an athlete, famous, or an actor/actress you’re not impactful or influential.


The question then becomes – how do you define a young influential person today? What does influence mean to you? What it does it mean to have an impact?

For me, the answers perhaps differ from what you see in the gossip media.  Take our very own UN Youth for instance. UN Youth makes a tremendous impact on young people. UN Youth is all about civics education. We educate young New Zealanders on what is going on in the world. It makes you look at things differently. We have a huge membership base that we influence through our educational content.  And it’s all run by New Zealand university and high school students, all of whom are volunteers.  UN Youth isn’t alone in this regards.  There are a huge number of organisations such as P3 Foundation, and Savy to name a few,  run by young people, dedicated to achieving positive social change.

So often, influence and impact is solely defined by visibility.  World leaders in sport, music, acting, and even instagram have a very high profile, and are very visible to people . Famous kiwis in the sporting industry and entertainment dominate ‘influentiality’ lists.  Lorde and Lydia Ko were the only kiwis to be included in Time’s Most Influential Teens List. Do they deserve to be honoured?  Certainly, they do.  What Lorde and Lydia Ko have achieved on the international stage is astounding. But who else is out there?


The Young New Zealander of the Year awards showcases some unknown, kiwis making an impact. They work quietly, invisibly to achieve change.

Guy Ryan, last year’s winner helps other young kiwis make an impact by providing young social entrepreneurs with assistance. The Ministry of Youth Development also provides opportunities for young people to make an impact and get involved in politics through its youth funds  and youth parliament.

Influential lists are meant to reflect people’s achievements and inspire us to emuate them and to try to make a change and do good. Yet athletes, actresses, actors and celebrities dominate ‘influential lists.’ Wouldn’t it be great to see more Angela Lims and Guy Ryans on Young Influential Lists?

Photos References:

Angela Lim:


Guy Ryan:

Meet your blog editors

DSC_0163Name: Mike Peebles
Position: Senior Blog Editor, Pacific Project 2016 Director, Otago Immediate Past President, Coffee connoisseur, and all round handy-man
About me: I’m in my 4th year of medical studies, at the University of Otago, Wellington campus. I currently reside in Wellington, where I am researching premature birth for a Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours, refining my coffee palate, and crying nightly about my thesis.

I’ve been involved in UN Youth since 2010, when I attended my very first Model UN, in Christchurch. It was a pretty awesome experience, and I went on to attend NZ Model UN in Wellington twice as a delegate. When I moved to Dunedin in 2012, I really wanted to give something back to the organisation that had helped me learn so much, and I attended Otago Model UN as a Conference Assistant. It’s fair to say that after that I was hooked, and have been volunteering for UN Youth ever since!

Years in UN Youth: This is my 4th year volunteering in UN Youth. In this time I spent three years on the Otago region council, coordinated the National Tertiary event in 2013, and was Otago President in 2014. I have just been appointed Pacific Project Director for next year’s trip, so I’m not going away anytime soon!

Best moment in UN Youth: I’ve been involved in many events during my years volunteering, but I think the most special moment was opening Southland Model UN in 2014. It was the first UN Youth event ever run in Invercargill, and nearly all of the 50 participants were new to Model UN. I have a huge passion for making Model UN accessible to as many young kiwis as possible, and being able to give Southland high schoolers access to this opportunity was something pretty special.

Guiltiest secret: I’m actually a massive motorsport geek, and follow the V8 Supercars like its a religion. I also race myself, and am currently competing in the Logitech New Zealand Rotax Max Challenge – a karting series. I’ve so far managed to resist the temptation to grow a mullet though.

What I want to achieve with the blog: I really want to give UN Youth’s members an opportunity to see behind the blazers and business cards, and see why this youth run organisation is so incredible.


11156165_10204010122524338_2712566998837179415_nName: Winona D’Costa
Positions: Junior Blog Editor, Promotions Officer World Health Assembly 2015.
About me: 2nd year BCom/BA student. Politics major. University of Auckland. Coffee hater, tea lover. Aspiring journalist or aspiring businesswoman? UN+DECIDED.

Years spent in UN Youth: Two, I joined last year. There’s actually a pretty great story behind this which I may blog about one day! Here’s a teaser, I found out about UN Youth in the most unconventional manner. I was on my first organising committee ever this semester. It was a whirlwind of a ride and by far the most UN Youth rewarding experience so far. I’ve also been to a huge number of conferences as a CA, though I’ve lost count now! Weirdly, I’ve only ever been a delegate twice!

Best moment in UN Youth: 2 moments really stick out for me.
1) This semester I was fortunate enough to be on the Auckland Model World Health Assembly (WHA) organising committee. Being on an organising committee is a hectic but a truly special experience. You learn an incredible amount in 3 months. When it all comes together on the conference day it’s beautiful to watch.
2) Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2015. This has to be one of the best conferences I’ve attended to date. Aotearoa Youth Declaration 2015 was just out of this world this year and it’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of the organising committee who were behind the event.

Guiltiest secret: I dislike nature and the country which is ironic because I come from a family who love the outdoors and live in the country. I’m a city girl and my idea of a nature hike is walking through the Auckland Viaduct. Bonus guilty secret: I love to make jams and marmalades. If I ever feel stressed or down I head to the kitchen and make a bottle of marmalade.

What I want to achieve with the blog: I’d like the blog to be the thing people turn to when they are feeling UN Youth nostalgia tugging at them. Secondly, I have always felt that people my age often feel alienated from global issues because it’s written in jargon. I’d want the blog to be a place where students can enjoy and understand international relations and other global issues in our language. Lastly the blog should be a place where you get to see the fun, craziness and hard work that goes on in UN Youth.


From Delegate to Conference Assistant

Been a delegate? Have some UN Youth experience? Want to know what goes on behind the scenes at UN Youth Conferences?

Joshua Cloke a UN Youth volunteer transitioned from a delegate to a conference assistant.11182028_897576076970347_1413942915094333714_n“Logistics Officer is a good entry level role I think for getting experience in [assisting with] conferences. You need to hand in a really good application…don’t leave it to the night before. I was doing mine two weeks before.”

The highlight of being a CA for Joshua was “watching everyone have the same experience I did and being able to provide that is great.”

10606482_881270965236217_2203392958578130269_nFor regional conferences good entry level CA roles are the general conference assistant roles. Once you have attended a few UN Youth conferences you can apply to be a general CA.  As a general CA your focus will be more on the logistical side of running a conference. Meeting and greeting the delegates as they come in, assisting the organizing committee with administration tasks. But perhaps the most vital task of all, for general CAs, is taking care of the food. That’s right you will be tasked with the crucial job of ensuring that the food is on the table waiting for the delegates. It wouldn’t be a UN Youth conference if there was no food!


Once you know the format of resolutions in and out, know how to make amendments and have the ability to stand for ages you can apply to be a Secretary.  Primarily as secretary you must be comfortable with UN Youth’s computer programme MUNRUN. Don’t twist yourself up in knots if you have no idea what that is. First time secretaries always get trained. Proofing and editing skills are also a necessary requirement because you will have to review amendments and resolutions.  Once you’ve been secretary multiple times your responsibilities may increase. Above all as secretary, supporting the chair of the committee should always be your priority.

UntitledNicknamed simply ‘the chair’ this role involves facilitating committee sessions. You will be the rule enforcer enforcing the rules of procedure and ensuring that debate runs smoothly.  For many of you World Health Assembly will be your first UN Youth event ever. The chair position may seem an eternity away but just think it could be you one day in that swiveling chair, leading the committee and plenary sessions.

Next year, when Auckland World Health Assembly comes up apply for the coveted conference assistant roles. Be warned: conference assistant roles get filled fast.


“Spotlight on Joshua Cloke: From Delegate to CA.” Interview with Joshua was originally published in Aotearoa Youth Declaration’s blog, The Journal.

Conference Assistants’ role descriptions are based on the Auckland Model World Health Assembly 2015.

Water security

The Healthy Eating Battle: Milk v Coke

Milk v Coke: the great old battle. These two drinks have battled each other for a long time. One comes from cows and the other comes from sugar (I think). One is great for your health and the other well let’s just say it’s best you don’t know what’s in it. Milk, this white liquid, goodness promises to make you stronger, taller and healthier. In contrast, Coke with its fizzy bubbles and guaranteed energy booster tries to entice you away.

Milk recently took a tumble (in New Zealand at least.) The price of milk is more expensive than Coke. That’s right. In New Zealand, a country where there are an excessive number of cows, it is cheaper to purchase Coke than milk. During the Auckland World Health Assembly, delegates will get the chance to tackle the problem of obesity and come up with solutions to the problem.

According to the resolution on obesity: “the world health assembly is fully aware that people’s choices regarding diet are shaped by their surrounding environment.”  Price is a huge part of that surrounding environment. Price is a great influencer. A price increase reigns back peoples’ willingness to buy. With price being a powerful influencer, a healthy diet is often at the mercy of product prices.

At a time when obesity and diabetes is rampant, solutions like taxes on unhealthy foods and banning the sale of unhealthy foods in schools should be implemented. It’s a no brainer. Increasing the price of unhealthy foods will bring down obesity. Not only has that not occurred, but in New Zealand, healthy eating has taken a step backward.  It is hard enough for milk to stand up to Coke. Coke is Coke. It’s tasty, addictive and now cheap. If Milk wants to win this battle and get people drinking healthy it needs to adjust its game plan. It needs to drop its price.


“NZ milk pricing isn’t ‘perverse’ or out-of-whack, Prime Minister John Key says”  By Aimee Guilliver, published on on 29th June 2015.

“The Question of Obesity.” By Madi Hughes, Educations Officer, World Health Assembly 2015

*Please note milk and coke prices may have changed by the time this story is published.

Environmental Image

Climate change is eroding global health

Which climate change effect is the most damaging to global health? Involuntary migration and displacement or food insecurity?

Involuntary migration and displacement

Climate change is killing seaside, low lying towns. A new report published in the New Zealand Herald found “sea levels are expected to rise between 50cm and 120cm, leaving populations to adapt by abandoning coasts and islands.” As rising sea levels erode their homes, people leave for inland cities. Rising sea levels are forcing the world to become rapidly more urbanised.Peacekeeping - UNMIT

Climate change is eroding healthy living conditions and creating new, unhealthy living conditions. With the influx of people into the city, overcrowding becomes rampant. Too many people living in small houses or apartments, too many people using transport, and so on. Overcrowding fuels diseases.  More people also means more waste, air and water pollution being generated.

As expanding human populations are being crammed into cities, the city could become a disease itself that will destroy people’s health.

Food security

Eroded food security is the most immediate and hard-hitting impact of climate change. New Zealand has endured cold snaps, flooding in Wanganui and Wellington and droughts. While New Zealand seems immune to climate change eroding food security (key word seems) other countries have not been so fortunate.

UNICEF HaitiA murmur of change in the weather can bring agriculture to a screeching halt. Climate and agriculture are intertwined. All the elements of agriculture: growing and harvesting, quality of soil, bow down to the climate. Changes in climate can then lead to extreme weather events that disrupt and often destroy the production of crops, causing severe agricultural damage.

With the world population projected to reach 9.6 billion in 2050, according to the United Nations’ World Populations Report, food demand is going to exceed supply.  Adapting to meet the increase in demand for food is difficult enough. Now, thanks to climate change, farmers will have to wrestle with extreme weather events destroying their crops.  Something has got to give.

So, which climate change effect is the most detrimental to your health?

“Climate Change a Medical Emergency.” By Jamie Morton, published in the New Zealand Herald on 23rd June 2015.
“World Populations Report.” By UN News, published in United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


Meet the National Executive

Kia ora everyone,

Welcome to the brand new UN Youth NZ Blog! This is an exciting new space where we will keep you up to date the with latest news on everything UN Youth, local and global issues as well as updates on our Regional, National and International events!

So let us kick things off  by getting warm and fuzzy, getting to know the National Executive!


National President, Jason Armishaw


I’m Jason, I’m in my 4th year of a Law and Commerce degree at Auckland University, with a major in Economics. I’m really interested in Negotiation and Geo-politics. In my spare time I like to go out in the outdoors and go tramping or kayaking, but if the weather is crap I’ll stay indoors with a good strategy video game. I first got involved in UN Youth through NZ Model UN 2010. It was my first ever Model UN and the handbook said to wear business attire or formal dress. I wore a kaftan while representing Nigeria.

Peanut Butter and Jelly or Nutella? Nutella, you can use it to make a Chocolate Cake in the microwave!

Kittens or Puppies? Kittens are the best, but I do want a Malmute Puppy.

Favourite Sport? Kayak Polo, look it up, it’s intense.


National Volunteers Officer, Henrietta Hitchings


I, Henrietta Antonia Anne Hitchings, am the National Volunteers Officer for this year. I have never been a delegate at a UN Youth event before but I have been to NZ Model UN a few times and I started out on the National Design Team. Here is a short list of things that I like or am: sleeping in, vegetarian, MDI Student (Masters of Design Innovation), salted caramel, female, the colours orange and blue. (Please note that this list is not in order of importance).

Puppies or Kittens? Both. I am an animal person and I love cats and dogs alike. I don’t care if they aren’t babies either, old and unfriendly pets are delightful in their own way and are just as deserving of love.

Favourite Sport? I honestly can’t think of a single sport that I would even know the rules. Orienteering looks fun.

Vegemite or Marmite? I love marmite. I had some for breakfast. I would be eating some now but I don’t want to get it on my keyboard. Vegemite is okay but Promite is a bit strange so at least we can all agree on that.


National Operations Officer, Bhen Goodsir


I’m Bhen, the National Operations Officer. My job is to look after all the administration of UN Youth that goes on behind the scenes. Mostly this involves managing emails, registrations, and file storage. I also work with the rest of the Volunteers at UN Youth to prepare all our National Council meetings.

Outside of UN Youth, I live in Auckland and study a Bachelor of Law and Arts with a major in French and Economics and the University of Auckland. When I’m not at university, working, or doing something for UN Youth, I love to cook/bake and I’m a bit of a TV addict (I can recommend ‘Orphan Black’, ‘The Americans’ and ‘Legend of Korra’).

I got involved with UN Youth back in 2009 when I first attended NZ Model UN as a delegate for the Russian Federation. I was the only person from my school that went and it was my first time in Wellington but I enjoyed myself so much I knew that I had to stay involved. UN Youth has grown a lot since then (when it was still known as UNYANZ – or ‘Onions’) but all of the changes have been for the better. Even though I got involved because I enjoyed the events, I’ve stayed involved because of the fantastic people I’ve met over the years and the amazing Volunteers that work every day to keep this organisation going.

Peanut butter and jelly or nutella? Nutella – Fun fact though, the difference between ‘Jelly’ and ‘Jam’ is that Jam has pieces of fruit in it whereas Jelly is made only from the juice of the fruit.

Puppies or Kittens? Puppies – no contest.

Beach or Mountain get away?  Beach – I think it’s probably something to do with having grown up with New Zealand but there’s nothing quite like getting away to the beach.


National Finances Officer, Imogene Gibson


I am in my 3rd year of volunteering for UN Youth and can’t get enough! I am also in my 3rd year of university, studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Information Systems. Being National Finance Officer is basically my life right now, and it’s perfect! Charities and finances and I go together like a bunch of cossy peas in a pod.

I first got involved in UN Youth via my best friend (shoutout: Jahnavi) at the Auckland Crisis Model UN in 2012. It was great! I talked once in my committee and sat right next to the action of USA in plenary, definitely an awesome precursor to my future involvement of UN Youth.

Puppies or Kittens? KITTENS. Kittens. Kiiiitteeennnnnnnnss. KIT-THEFLIPPING-TENS.

Peanut butter and jelly or nutella? Nutella, cause anything that tries to taste like chocolate is an A+ to me (actual chocolate is also an A+)

Beach or Mountain get away? A solid mountain stroll sounds nicer than the beach. By solid I mean 10 minutes. By mountain stroll I mean streaming TV. By 10 minutes I mean 10 hours.


National Communications Officer, Anu Kaw


I’m in my fourth year of University at Otago studying Anatomy. I love the outdoors, colouring in books, long bike rides and brand compliant cupcakes. I live and breathe the brand that is UN Youth. I was first involved as a conference assistant at Crisis Model UN 2011 in Auckland. Since then, I’ve been hooked and have actually managed to not be a delegate at an UN Youth Event!

Peanut butter and jelly or nutella? Nutella sandwiches are my life. Too bad Dunedin is always too cold and freezes it into a block but a spoonful of nutella goes a long way.

Favourite colour? My favourite colour is navy blue, I use it all the time in my colouring in book, it’s very soothing.

Beach or Mountain get away? Most definitely a fan of the mountains, it’s where I feel most at peace.


National Educational Officer, Matt Schep


Matthew, 24, double degree BTch/BA at the University of Otago, working at Countdown Supermarkets as a Checkout Supervisor and Online Shopper. Loves baking, tramping, sunsets, board games, and road trips.

First event: Otago Rotary MUNA 2006 (co-run by UN Youth Otago), went on to do NZMUN 2006.

Peanut butter and jelly or nutella? Nutella

Puppies or Kittens? Kittens

Beach or Mountain get away? Mountain get-away. Go tramping, keep fit, get amazing views.


National Relations Officer, Michele Angerbauer


My name is Michele Angerbauer and I am the National Relations Officer for UN Youth New Zealand. I have recently completed my Masters in International Studies from the University of Otago.I got involved with UN Youth in 2013. My first event was the Model World Health Assembly. This was a tertiary event run by the Otago Region. It was fantastic time, and I remember being extremely nervous.

Peanut butter and jelly or nutella? Nutella. Definitely.

Puffer jacket or a nice coat? Nice coat. Trés quiche.

Beach or Mountain get away? Neither, I am a city girl.



Welcome to the new UN Youth NZ Blog!

Check back here regularly to keep up with all the latest happenings from UN Youth!