Matariki Reflections: Celebrating Our One Year Anniversary

Author: Michelle Huang, Chair and Interim-GM at Multiethnic Young Leaders NZ

As the Matariki cluster of stars reappears to mark the Māori new year this week, I join those across the mōtu to reflect on the past year, celebrate the present and plan for the year ahead.

Today marks our first lap around the sun as an organisation. 365 days ago, five starry-eyed rangatahi between the ages of 18 and 35 scrambled together the signatures of 15 future members to register Multiethnic Young Leaders NZ (MYLN) as an incorporated society. 

With the weight of MYLN’s kaupapa and the vision of our collective future on our shoulders, we stepped into the unknown, ready to embrace whatever challenges and opportunities would lie ahead.

Reflecting on the last 12 months as the Chair and interim-GM of Multiethnic Young Leaders, I feel immense humility, gratitude and privilege. From an initial 15 members, we have since grown to a network of over 220 diverse, committed and purposeful future leaders scattered across the motu — from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) all the way to Murihiku (Southland).

Our current members include former Prime Minister Award recipients, National Finalists for Young New Zealander of the Year, Forbes 30 Under 30 recipients, Queen’s Young Leader Award recipients, founders of a plethora of nonprofit, social enterprise and community organisations, and graduates from top global universities including Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge.

Despite COVID-19 hurdles throughout this period, we managed to celebrate a number of incredible milestones. Highlights have included the official launch of Multiethethnic Young Leaders at Government House, collaborating with KPMG to host a bi-monthly Speaker & Networking series featuring inspiring Leaders of Colour from across the motu, partnering with the NZ Human Rights Commission and Ministry for Ethnic Communities on a sold-out National Young Leaders Zui (Zoom Hui) on eliminating systemic racism, launching the country’s first database on all youth leadership opportunities available to aspiring future leaders in Aotearoa, hiring our first full-time staff member, and hosting several member events and public campaigns.

These milestones have been the result of mahi tahi (collaboration/partnership). Behind us, beside us, and before us have been trailblazing individuals and organisations who have generously invested in our vision and kaupapa. Our incredible members, as well as my fellow board and team members, have also been key contributors to our mahi and kaitiaki of MYLN’s kaupapa.

Looking into the year ahead, a key priority of mine is sustainability: to balance growth with building resilience. It’s been an absolute honour to serve Multiethnic Young Leaders over the past year, and I look forward to continuing this service over the coming years. I’m incredibly excited about what the new year holds for Multiethnic Young Leaders, and I’m beyond grateful to everyone who has been part of our journey so far. 

Mānawatia a Matariki!