OPINION | Bridging the Opportunity Divide: Reflecting on the One-Year Anniversary of the Rangatahi Leadership Opportunities Database

Author: Marie Ysabel Landingin, Project Lead, Rangatahi Leadership Opportunities Database (RLOD)

Last Wednesday, we celebrated one year since the launch of our effort to address the opportunity divide in Aotearoa New Zealand—the Rangatahi Leadership Opportunities Database (RLOD).

Our team spent a classic chilly afternoon in Te Whanganui-a-Tara alongside representatives from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministry for Youth Development, Make It 16, Ministry for Ethnic Communities, Asia New Zealand Foundation, FIANZ, IWCNZ, and Race Unity Aotearoa.

Together, we reflected on the journey that led to the creation of the RLOD – the questions, evidence, and stories that led to our realisation that something needed to be done. We are grateful for the support we received from communities, government, businesses, and young people who understood this purpose and rallied alongside us.

We also looked forward to our next steps and opened the conversation about the journey ahead. Our plan is to continue sharing this story, our case for change, and why this kaupapa matters.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to our generous supporters, those who dedicated their time to listen, and those who have provided opportunities for our young people to access. We are especially grateful to the Tindall Foundation and the Multiethnic Young Leaders team.

The one-year milestone of the RLOD serves as a reminder of the power of collective action and radical generosity. Within just one year, we have amassed over 100 leadership opportunities collectively. To put it in perspective, a year ago, we found fewer than 40 opportunities after months of searching the internet and exhausting our networks.

The assurance from those who recognise the value of our work fills us with encouragement. To the young people, teachers, and all who have expressed their gratitude, we express our gratitude in return.

When I embarked on this journey working on the RLOD with the team, I didn’t fully grasp the extent of the privilege we hold in occupying the spaces we find ourselves in. It serves as a reminder of how many life-changing opportunities I’ve had have come about through chance conversations, being in the right place at the right time, stumbling upon them on social media, connecting with experienced individuals, and having the time and means to pursue them.

However, these privileges are not equally available to everyone. We must strive to level the playing field, and the RLOD is just one of many ways to work towards this goal.

Let’s continue to make Aotearoa a more accessible and generous place to live, sharing opportunities and spreading kindness as we pay it forward.