Millennials have say on Hamilton Council's 10-year-plan

Gemma Major Stuff Seed Waikato.jpg

STUFF.CO.NZ, 8 March 2018

Dozens of young adults will take Hamilton City Council to the task on its 10-year-plan. 

And some lofty topics - including transport, waste minimisation and cultural diversity in council - are likely to crop up. 

Millennials make up around a quarter of Hamilton, with 23 per cent of the population between 18 and 30. 

But it's a demographic often overlooked when it comes to decision making, Hamilton's young leaders say.

Gemma Major, chair and co-founder of Seed Waikato - designed to connect young adults - said younger people engaging in local politics could debunk the idea that millennials weren't proactive. 

It's the first event of its kind, Major said, with Seed Waikato, Hamilton Young Professionals, Let's Lead, FLINT, Zeal and The Creators co-hosting the workshop, where young people can air views and concerns to council staff and councillors. 

After, a formal submission will be made to council ahead of the final plan being released to public consultation on March 29. 

"Often I think our voice is discounted because we're so young and have no experience," Major, 25, said.

"Or other things give us a bad rap, like smashed avocado instead of saving for a house." 

While concerns and questions will be free flowing and unpredictable at the Friday event, Major said transport and reducing the city's waste were issues she's heard cropping up. 

"Some people are really interested in cycling, like public transport. 

"Some people want a skate park set up for the younger people in the community as well." 

Food trucks, music gigs and more weekend events could keep young Hamiltonians in the city, Major said. 

"When I walk down Victoria Street and the city centre I wouldn't say 20 per cent of the people that I see are young. I wonder where, they are, what are they doing." 

Lehi Duncan, 26, Hamilton manager for Zeal, said transport is a big worry for the younger population.

Some from poorer areas don't have money for the bus and rarely leave their suburb, Duncan said. 

"You've got young people in Fairfield for example who have never been to the CBD side of the bridge.

"To happen in our backyard, it's pretty saddening."

And too much money is being spent on developing wealthier areas like Rototuna, Duncan said. 

"But we have these under served communities throughout Hamilton that could also benefit from a significant financial contribution."

Councillor Angela O'Leary, who will attend the event, said Council have neglected the city's younger generation this term. 

"We have non existent voice of young people represented around the council table," O'Leary said.  "It's a bunch of crusty people sitting around a table and making plans for their future. It's not right." 

She looks forward to the young ones bringing the heat. 

"I'm expecting them to challenge us on where is our cultural diversity, where is our cultural policy." 

O'Leary hopes the formal submission will be taken into account for the final plan, but she's not optimistic. 

"The cynical side of me says 'no'. I think that if that was the case it would have happened at the start of this term.

"Hamilton is a really conservative city." 

The event is on Friday March 9 at Zeal in Hamilton, from 5pm to 8pm. To find out more, visit here