UNA Waikato Empowers Youth at Successful 2023 Youth Leadership Forum and MUNA Conference

24 August 2023

UNA Waikato

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On Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 July 2023, the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNA NZ) Waikato Group orchestrated a highly successful event, bringing together students from Hamilton and Guangdong to partake in the 2023 Youth Leadership Forum and Model United Nations Assembly (MUNA) conference. Rototuna High Schools served as the vibrant venue, fostering cross-cultural understanding and providing a platform for diplomatic discussions. 

The opening ceremony witnessed the presence of Miranda, Megan, Andrew, Katie, and Benny representing Rototuna High Schools. Miranda, the Principal of Rototuna Senior High School, extended a warm welcome to Mano Manoharan, President of UNA NZ Waikato, and all participants, setting a positive tone for the event. 

In his engaging speech, Mano Manoharan underscored the significance of community contribution through speech competitions and MUNA while introducing the United Nations and UNA NZ to the attendees. A momentous announcement came as Mano revealed the establishment of the Global SDGs Group within the Waikato Group. This dedicated community aims to empower and educate young individuals on the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), further amplifying their impact. 

To bolster the group's mission and global reach, Mano appointed Raymond (Wenrui) Liang as Director, Benny Pan as Regional Representative (Hamilton), Ruben Diaz as International Relations Officer (United States), and Ziyu (Mac) Mai as Communications Officer (China). 

The event also featured distinguished guest speakers. Dr Gaurav Shama, a prominent New Zealand doctor and former Member of Parliament, provided valuable insights on WHO Foresight Approaches in Global Public Health. Psychologist Madhu Munasinghe shared expert guidance on improving mental well-being, contributing to the holistic focus of the conference. 

During the afternoon tea break, Mano surprised William with an unforgettable birthday celebration, adding a touch of warmth and camaraderie to the event. Additionally, William and his peers Cen and Yang had the unique opportunity to participate in a live interview on Melvan's Radio program for the first time, further highlighting the significance of the conference. 

The MUNA conference showcased delegates skillfully representing their assigned countries, engaging in bloc negotiations, drafting resolutions, and actively voting for the most promising solutions to pressing global public health issues. Yang, the delegate of Egypt, and Lucia, the delegate of Russia, were recognised as the best speakers for the China and New Zealand sides, respectively, owing to their exceptional performances. Mano congratulated them, commending their diplomatic prowess and contributions to the conference's success. 

The 2023 Youth Leadership Forum and MUNA conference undoubtedly served as an empowering platform for young individuals, fostering international cooperation and cultivating the next generation of global leaders. UNA NZ Waikato's unwavering commitment to promoting cross-cultural understanding and addressing global challenges was displayed throughout the event, leaving a lasting impact on all participants. 

Author: Raymond (Wenrui) Liang 

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