Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Planning Projects with Children and Young People in New Zealand Local Government

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

Planning Projects with Children and Young People in New Zealand Local Government

Article excerpt

Youth participation in local government has been a hot topic at both central and local government levels in New Zealand. This paper reports on the findings from interviews undertaken with planners and local government officers working in 11 local authorities where youth participation initiatives have been developed. In particular the research explored what motivated planners to become involved with children and young people, the structures and processes they used to develop more participatory approaches and the types of projects that the authorities developed. The findings indicate that while there is indeed tremendous enthusiasm among those we interviewed and a commitment to enhanced participation for young people, levels of participation were low and understandings of the broader context of participation limited. The initiatives were prompted by a desire on the part of local government to 'do something' and to respond to identifiable problems and needs, rather than any deeper desire to confront the marginalised position of young people in society and local government.

Young people's participation

In recent years there has been a flurry of research and activity directed at the issue of the participation of young people in local government both internationally and here in New Zealand. Research has been strongly focused on participation and local government, with a numbers of authors providing strong critiques of the practice of participation (Malone, 1999; Hart, 1997; Matthews et al., 1999). Other focal points for research have been participation for citizenship, particularly focusing on the role of local government with a strong European emphasis (Wallace, 2001), youth advocacy and the need to recognise young people's needs and participative rights (Smith et al., 1998), youth alienation and its relation to participation and to public rights (Crane and Dee, 2001; Kraak and Kenway, 2001) and more recently measuring the effectiveness of participation, a theme explored in this paper. The focus in both the academic research and by government has been on the participation relationship between young people and local government at a generalised level. The more precise relationship between young people and particular professions or local government sectors is one that has yet to be adequately explored (Freeman et al., 2003). There has been, then, a significant expansion in the whole field of young people's participation research but it has tended to be concentrated in particular focus areas with limited attention to critiquing participation at the more detailed level and at looking beneath the participative claims of governments and organisations.

In New Zealand as elsewhere there has also been a major growth in attention being given to young people and participation. While the catalyst for this upsurge is uncertain the outcome has clearly been a major boost to those in local government interested in and working with children and local government. At central government level there has been increasing attention paid to children and young people, as indicated in the production of New Zealand's Agenda for Children' (MSD, 2002), Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa (MYA, 2002) and a number of associated publications such as Making it Happen: Implementing New Zealand's Agenda for Children (IPP, 2002), and three central government participation guides designed for those working with children and young people (MSD, 2003; 2004; MYA, 2003). The Ministry of Social Development also undertook a survey of local government to establish the state of play with regard to children and young people's participation in local government. In this climate then New Zealand seems to be well set up for achieving success in the area of providing for and involving children and young people in society and in local government, in particular. It has a supportive government with relevant child and youth focused ministries, appropriate policy documents and a range of participatory guidance tools for local authorities all encouraging participation. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.