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Te Rōpū Kaitohutohu Take Taiohi

Youth Advisory Panel

The role of the Youth Advisory Panel

The Youth Advisory Panel offers advice based on their experiences living as young people aged 14 to 24 years, to help us improve outcomes for this community.

They will:

  • identify the issues that are important to young people
  • provide advice on our regional strategies, policies and plans
  • help us to effectively engage with young people.

Read about the term of the new panel.

​Members of the panel

Members of the Youth Advisory Panel.

Standing from left to right: Ryan Chow, Esther O’Donnell, Vira Paky, Julie Nicholson, Kritika Selach. Seated from left to right: Sanat Singh, Taimarino Cleave, Jasmine Gray, Fine Aholelei. Absent: Ayla Johnstone, Dylan Chand, Katja Neef.

Ayla Johnstone

Ayla Johnstone is a youth advocate and advisor from rural South Auckland.

Having grown up in Pukekohe and the surrounding areas of Franklin, Ayla is dedicated to connecting with the voices of disconnected young people.

She was the chairperson of Franklin Youth Advisory Board from 2020-2023, serving previously as secretary, treasurer and deputy-chairperson.

Her biggest achievement during this time was being a panellist at the 2021 OECD youth week Conference for 'Youth and Democracy in times of crisis'.

When Ayla is not engaging in youth advocacy, she is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in Business from AUT or participating in theatre and performing arts with AUT's performing arts club.

Dylan Chand

Dylan is a passionate and driven young leader with a strong commitment to community engagement and climate action.

He is currently studying engineering and computer science at the University of Auckland.

He hopes to pursue a career in sustainable technology development to help create innovative solutions to combat climate change.

In 2022, Dylan was employed at Auckland Council as a Youth Climate Catalyst. There he had the opportunity to represent Tāmaki Makaurau on an international stage at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Buenos Aires.

With a focus on empowering youth to take action on environmental issues, Dylan then founded the Climate Action Conference in 2023.

The conference offered rangatahi, aged 13 – 24, the opportunity to engage with speakers, panels and provided hands-on workshops to initiate their own community climate projects.

Dylan is committed to continuing his work in community engagement and climate action and is excited to see what new challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

Jasmine Gray

Jasmine is a 22-year-old wahine Pākehā, entrepreneur and social change advocate from Tāmaki Makaurau.

 In 2023, she is graduating with a conjoint degree of a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Global Studies, majoring in media, film and television, communications, and global politics and human rights, with a specialisation in Te Reo Māori and Aotearoa from Waipapa Taumata Rau (University of Auckland).

She is also completing a Level 5 Certificate in Public Health and Health Promotion from Te Pukenga (New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology).

Jasmine co-founded Let’s Talk Consent in 2022, winning the Social Category of the University of Auckland's Velocity 100k Challenge.

Let’s Talk Consent is a social enterprise that utilises media to empower Aotearoa’s youth with the critical thinking skills and know-how to create a dominant consent culture, to catalyse meaningful systemic and wider cultural change and create a world free from sexual harm.

Alongside this, Jasmine is a co-design team member for the national expansion of Protected&Proud’s digital contraceptive hub for Aotearoa’s wāhine and non-binary communities.

Jasmine is also passionately engaged in Aotearoa’s arts scene.

She is currently a writer for one of New Zealand’s biggest music websites (UMUSIC NZ), and has been performing in various theatre projects for over a decade.

In all her roles, she is fiercely passionate and outspoken about the power of rangatahi. gender equality, indigenous rights, sexual health and sexual violence prevention.

Katja Phutaraksa Neef

Katja Phutaraksa Neef is a climate and social justice advocate born and raised in Thailand and grew up in Japan and Aotearoa.

Katja is currently an Artist-in-Residence at ICAAD, and works at UnionAID as a programme coordinator for the Indonesia Young Leaders programme across East Indonesia and West Papua.

Katja is also active in her community, having previously worked for Auckland Council as a Community Climate Catalyst and is a youth leader and advisor for the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

She has participated in field research and workshops in Fiji, Vanuatu, Thailand, Cambodia, Tanzania, Peru, Indonesia, and West Papua, with a regional focus on Asia and the Pacific.

She completed her bachelor's in Global Studies majoring in sustainable development, her honours in geography, and is now completing a research master's in development studies.

Her academic research and advocacy interests include issues concerning indigenous rights, forced migration and displacement, and climate justice.

Kritika Selach

Kritika Selach is an advocacy and community development all-rounder whose core focus is ensuring youth voices are represented in decision-making at all levels of the community in Auckland and New Zealand.

Through her role as chairperson of the Papakura Youth Council, she has been able to work with local government and grow various leaders in her community while connecting youth councils across Auckland.

Selach has been a spokesperson and worked on the consultation engagements for various Auckland Council plans including budgets and local board plans.

Kritika Selach has gained valuable experience through various governance groups including:

  •  AA Auckland District Council
  • Planet Youth
  • Southern Clusters
  • Rosehill College Board of Trustees.

She has a core passion for sports development and fitness working with Kura Connect, BhangraFit AKL and Touch New Zealand.

Through her ongoing commitment to professional development she has attended various conferences across New Zealand including:

  • Festival for the Future
  • IPIR
  • Girls in Business New Zealand.

She has been awarded the Auckland Youth Voice Legacy Award and Papakura Local Board Young Person Making a Difference for her work.

Selach is an analytical global studies student at the University of Auckland and Service Specialist of ASB Bank.

She brings experience, dedication and insight to the Auckland Council Youth Advisory Panel for the next term.

Ryan Chow

Ryan Chow is a civic entrepreneur and director of the not-for-profit New Zealand Youth Film Festival and Australia Youth Film Festival.

He specialises in business management and marketing and has commerce and screen production degrees.

A recent immigrant from Canada, he is a bilingual speaker in English and Chinese and has lived across the Asia-Pacific region.

He is passionate about serving communities, particularly through extensive volunteering and entrepreneurial endeavours.

Vira Paky

Vira is a first-generation Congolese-New Zealander, raised and based in Tāmaki Makaurau.

She is a community engagement professional, who has previously worked in the health, refugee and youth development sectors.

Her background is in storytelling as an activist, writer, poet and playwright.

As a politically engaged storyteller, she believes in the potential of art for transformative social change and thrives at the intersections of social impact, community engagement and creative arts.

She currently works at Basement Theatre as their artistic programmer.

Vira is committed to human-centred design and systems change to solve pressing social issues and contribute to a more equitable, sustainable Aotearoa.

Vira is:

  • former chairperson of the New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council
  • 2021 Recipient of the Gary Ware Legacy Humanitarian Award from Amnesty International
  • 2021 Recipient of the Waitematā Local Board Good Citizens Award
  • lead for the 2022 Youth Leadership Symposium (Mana Rangatahi Hui Taumata)
  • a member of The Hive (Season 3).

She is an executive member of the Multiethnic Young Leaders Network, a World Vision 2023 Youth Leadership Conference Series Keynote Speaker and an Inspiring Stories 2023 Youth Advisory Panel Member.

Fine Aholelei

Fine Aholelei is a first-generation New Zealand-Tongan from the villages of Ha’ateiho, Pea, Kolomotu’a and Tongoleleka Hihifo Ha’apai.

She is a proud local of Panmure, East Auckland.

Fine is completing her Bachelor of Arts at Auckland University of Technology in international relations and social sciences. She will start her Masters in Education soon.

Fine has been a member of:

  • Tāmaki Youth Council
  • Ministerial Youth Advisory Group for Education
  • Youth Law Advisory Group.

She has also worked as a Navigator at Auckland University of Technology, helping facilitate and create safe thriving environments for Māori and Pacific students transitioning into the tertiary space. She also works as a cleaner part-time.

In her spare time, Fine volunteers for Edmund Rice Camps Auckland, which aims to foster an engaging and enthusiastic environment for disadvantaged youth.

Being of Pasifika descent and growing up in a low socio-economic community, Fine is passionate about serving her communities and striving for more equitable and thriving futures.

Sanat Singh

Youth Advisory Panel Co-Chair Sanat Singh is passionate about problem-solving, pressing social issues and the people around him.

He works actively to craft community-based initiatives and projects that address large-scale issues in education, mental health and civic engagement in a homegrown way.

Sanat is pursuing a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at the University of Auckland.

He is co-director of Make it 16, working to lower the voting age in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

He believes the agency that young people have over their future is paramount to addressing complex modern challenges.

Sanat hopes to provide an empowering environment that helps those who come after him engage meaningfully and tangibly with decision-making in Auckland.

Taimarino Cleave

Taimarino Cleave is a second-year student doing a double degree in Law and Arts, majoring in Māori Studies and International Politics and Relations, at the University of Auckland.

He is deeply rooted in Māori culture and values and has a strong foundation in kura kaupapa education.

Taimarino's academic pursuits are guided by a passionate commitment to corporate law and Waitangi Tribunal law.

He aspires to contribute to the legal landscape in Aotearoa by advocating for fairness, justice and the protection of Māori rights.

Beyond his academics, Taimarino is a dynamic advocate for youth-oriented initiatives and all aspects of Māori culture.

Taimarino's early years on Aotea Great Barrier Island have fuelled his commitment to addressing the gap between rural and urban areas. He is also passionate about exploring ways to recognise the contributions of rural communities in wider Auckland.

Taimarino is committed to advancing his work in government sectors, specifically focusing on Māori youth engagement and amplifying the voices of marginalised communities.

Esther O’Donnell

Esther O’Donnell is a 17-year-old high school student. She attends Western Springs College/Ngā Puna o Waiōrea, where she is a library monitor, debater and provides peer learning support.

In her spare time, Esther enjoys getting lost in a good book, walking her dog and practising yoga.

She has spent all her life living in Grey Lynn, on the edge of the city centre, and has seen first-hand the changing landscape of this area.

Esther’s passion lies in creating initiatives to uplift and connect this vibrant community. In 2019 she started Piwakawaka - a network of little libraries that aims to make reading accessible to everyone.

Julie Nicholson

Julie Nicholson is a young passionate Māori wahine. Her iwi is Ngapuhi and her hapū is Te Kapotai.

She aspires to make a change for the better not only in her community but for the whole of Aotearoa and hopefully the world.

Julie is currently based in Papakura and is a member of the Papakura Youth Council.

She is excited to have recently joined the Youth Advisory Panel and prepared to be diligent and persevering in her work.

 She hopes in her time as an advisor she can help the community and make a difference. 

​Meetings of the panel

The Youth Advisory Panel holds scheduled meetings and a number of workshops with staff each year.

Scheduled meetings are open to the public.

For dates, agendas and minutes, see Youth Advisory Panel meetings.

Get in touch with the panel

Email if you want to:

  • attend a meeting
  • present at a meeting
  • need more information.

​Get a copy of demographic advisory panels terms of reference


For the latest end of term report, see Auckland Council Youth Advisory Panel end of term report 2019.

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