Aspiring Leaders Forum Nominations

Aspiring Leaders Forum 29th August – 1st September 2024

Each year Aspiring Leaders’ Forum on faith and values (ALF) brings together a diverse, gifted and courageous group of young people and its leaders to discuss leadership from a narrative point of view. All young adults that attend Forum have been nominated by someone who believes in them and are aged between 18 – 26 years old. ALF is about encouraging young people to become better leaders in their sphere of influence – be it community, arts, business, politics or sport.

Over four days in Wellington participants will discuss why faith and values are foundational, by informing and developing one’s character and one’s leadership.


Highlights include:

  • A day spent in Parliament House
  • Keynote addresses from senior politicians
  • Keynote addresses from inspiring leaders of varying societal spheres
  • Small group discussions
  • A community service project
  • A sports afternoon and an epic barn dance

To view the full programme, please go to

What is the Aspiring Leaders Forum like?

April Linares 2023

From the 24th to 27th of August, I was privileged enough to attend the Aspiring Young Leaders forum held in Wellington. This forum was extremely provocative, it made me change my perspective on leadership and how one should approach this. We were able to find the importance of being a servant leader, creating opportunities for communities and those who are less privileged. I was lucky enough to listen to many different speakers, from Nicola Willis and John Elliot to Cindy Kiro and Josiah Parr. Each one of these individuals had a very different but valuable story - learning about the importance of overcoming challenges, while also being surrounded by family. But most of all the importance of our own values and morals in life.

During the four days of the forum, the schedule was very busy. With the first day being held at the Parliament, we were lucky enough to be in the crowd of some great leaders. We were also the audience of an MP Panel, composed of various political parties… including Marama Davidson and Golriz Ghahraman of the Green Party, Ibrahim Omer from the Labour Party, and Melissa Lee from the National Party. After spending the day at the parliament, we finished off having a Gala Dinner held at the banquet hall, in the beehive. We also watched a live interview of Tim Wilson interviewing Dame Cindy, touching on why she had chosen the life of service she has and encouraging us to “commit to service because it is bigger than us!”

Some key things we also did include having a sports day, where each group had a theme in which we had to dress up in and it was a way in which we got to practice and apply our leadership skills while playing competitive sports. On Saturday, we had an afternoon of community service. AFL partnered with Wildside Karori, we travelled to Karori, a suburb located west from the city centre of Wellington and began getting our hands dirty to make a lasting difference for the community.

We also attended seminars, which were kind sessions with different key speakers and then at the end we were able to ask questions about their shared experiences. I attended one with Tim Wilson (NZ journalist) and one with World Vision, an NZ organization which aims to help those children who are very vulnerable, saving them and ensuring they have a feature.

On Saturday night to finish off the four days together on a high, we attended a barn dance as a way of also expanding our social time outside of our small group time. It was great, we had great kai (made underground) and great music. On Sunday, our last day, we packed up early, had breakfast and had one last speaker. We then group by group had one or two people summarize our few days together. Said our goodbyes, which was actually really sad and odd at the same time after only knowing these people for a few days, it felt like I have known them for a lot longer. I then flew home, knowing there was a lot of reflection and thinking to be done.

I also want to say a massive thank you to the Waitaki Youth Council and the Otago Trust Community for sponsoring my trip, I could not thank you enough for this amazing opportunity.

April Linares

Uatesoni Filikitonga 2023

Key Learnings
•     'The pathway to leadership is service' - 0 le ala ile pule ale tautua
•     Servant leadership
•     The fruit of our decisions can feed whole communities
•     Faith and Values

The Aspiring Leaders Forum was an experience of a lifetime. One quote that has stuck with me throughout the forum was a Samoan proverb 'O le ala ile pule ale tautua'

Before arriving at ALF I had a vague understanding of leadership. In one of the presentations a Keynote speaker talked about 3 models of leadership. Transactional leadership, Transformational leadership and Servant leadership. Transactional is based on a good faith model most schools use this model. Transformational leadership can be seen in sports teams and the example of servant leadership that was given was Jesus.

As a man of faith I was taken back by this. I always thought of Jesus as the higher power who is in control of everything but what I forgot was that Jesus' life and teachings are a profound example of servant leadership. His commitment to selflessness, humility, compassion, empowerment, forgiveness, and inclusivity serve as a timeless model for leaders in all walks of life, emphasizing the transformative power of serving others with love and dedication.

We spent the first day in Parliament and I was questioning whether or not I belong here, everyone else had this deep understanding of Politics so I could feel myself start to shut off but then I spoke with Michael Wood, Labour MP for Mt Roskill. I learnt at that moment that leadership does not equal politics or parliament. Leadership equals someone who is willing to serve others to the best of their ability and he reassured me that I am exactly where I belong.

The forum offered loads of opportunities to hear from inspirational speakers and leaders who exemplify servant leadership in their lives and careers. Their stories served as beacons of hope and guidance, showing us that it is possible to lead with humility and empathy in a world often characterized by self-interest. Witnessing how these leaders weave their faith and values into their roles highlighted the profound impact that servant leadership can have on individuals, organizations, and communities. The forum also emphasized the importance of cultivating a strong moral compass in leadership. It encouraged us to reflect on our own values, to articulate them clearly, and to ensure that they guide our decision-making processes. This self-awareness and commitment to ethical conduct were woven throughout the discussions and activities, reinforcing the idea that servant leadership is rooted in a deep sense of responsibility to uphold the highest standards of integrity.

One of the most transformative aspects of the forum was the sense of community it fostered. Meeting fellow aspiring leaders who shared a passion for servant leadership based on faith and values was incredibly affirming. These connections demonstrated the potential for servant leadership to bridge gaps, build understanding, and create a sense of unity among people of diverse beliefs. It reinforced my belief that when we lead with a servant's heart, we can transcend religious, cultural, and ideological boundaries to work toward common goals.

As I reflect on my participation in this forum, I am filled with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. I am inspired to continue exploring how my faith and values can inform and enhance my role as a servant leader. The forum has equipped me with practical tools, profound insights, and a supportive network of like-minded individuals who share my commitment to making a positive impact on the world through servant leadership.

Eligibility Criteria

To be considered for the Aspiring Leaders Forum sponsorship, you must:

  • Be aged between 18 - 26
  • Be able to demonstrate strong leadership potential in your sphere of influence
  • Be able to discuss leadership from a personal perspective 
  • Be living in the Waitaki District
  • Be a New Zealand Citizen or Permanent Resident

How to Apply

To apply, please fill in the application form below by 28 June 2024.