Aspiring Leaders Forum Nominations

The Aspiring Leaders Forum (ALF) on faith and values will be hosting their seventeen Forum on 24th – 27th August 2023 hosted by MP Simeon Brown and MP Naisi Chen at Parliament House, Wellington. The annual event brings together a diverse group of committed and courageous young leaders from across Aotearoa New Zealand.

Guided by facilitators and esteemed national leaders, young people discuss leadership from a narrative point of view, faith and values over four days.

While Members of Parliament host aspects of the Forum, the focus is not purely politics. Instead, it is about encouraging young people to become better leaders in their sphere of influence - be it community, arts, business, politics or sports.


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?

Joshua Acheson 2022

From the 30 June to 3 July 2022, I had the honour and privilege of attending the Aspiring Leaders’ Forum in Wellington. It was a transformative, thought-provoking four-day programme that I know will be formative in my leadership and community involvement going forward. The major learnings that I take away from the forum include the importance of personal leadership, giving back to the community with action, and keeping people the focus of leadership.

During the four days, emphasis was placed on personal leadership. We explored tools such as the Johari window to aid in self-awareness, self-reflection and self-mastery. These tools helped us to critically evaluate ourselves, our values, and worldviews, and how these influence the way we lead. I appreciated this time because we came away with plenty of food for thought and applicable skills for continued growth.

Alongside the focus on personal mastery, giving back to the community was also prioritised. We were encouraged to be the change we wanted to see in the world, to lead by example, to put in the mahi to make a better Aotearoa. During the forum, this looked like spending an afternoon tree-planting. As a hands-on person, I appreciated focus that we must take action if we want to see change.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata he tangata he tangata! (What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people!) We were reminded at the forum of this whakatauki. We were challenged to cultivate a sense of personal fulfilment through both meaning and happiness – and that the key to this is people, being in a collective group. This was enacted through the many conversations we had, the relationships that formed and the teams we created throughout the forum.

Attending the Aspiring Leaders’ Forum was an extraordinarily valuable experience for me. It inspired and equipped me with the tools and matauranga to pursue a brighter future for my community. I would recommend this forum to any aspiring leader. I am immensely grateful to the Otago Community Trust for supporting and enabling me to attend the forum. Your generosity is greatly appreciated – thank you.

Ellen McAtamney 2022

What I learnt while I was at the forum.

Lesson Number 1: Everyone has a story, and everyone has various occasions in their lives where they became a leader.

We listened to speakers from various locations, occupations, and background. Well-known people, and others not so well-known. The common theme was you will not have to be a leader all the time but in certain situations you may find yourself the leader and throughout your lifetime you will have multiple opportunities to set-up and be a leader. This has changed my definition of a leader. The traditional definition of a leader is “the person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.” We often think a leader must be the most outspoken and seen to be doing the most. To me a leader should be a doer someone who does things and expects nothing in return but in return creates meaningful change. A leader should be someone who creates a sustainable ripple effect around the things they do. This quote stuck with me and is something I think we should all keep in the back of our minds “Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter” D.L Moody.

Lesson Number 2: Surround yourself in people that pull you up.

Pull you up is an odd term but one that could have different meanings in different contexts. Puling you up by making you a better person is one way of looking at it. Alternatively, we want to surround ourselves in people who are prepared to pull us up on our actions and comments and have a re-think. If we all agreed on the same thing all the time there would be no challenges, no well thought out decisions, and no reason for us to form our own opinions. That would be a boring world to live in, instead we want to be around people that say to us “have you thought about the other side of the story” or “do you really think that is the only way for us to get this done?” The more we question our actions the better we become at thinking about the alternatives which in turn will make us a better leader.

Lesson Number 3: Leadership is about being a servant not a slave

Newtons law of motion number 3- for every action there is an equal or opposite reaction. What I mean by this is for everything you put in you will get something back or a greater reaction (positive or negative) than expected. It is how we choose to use those reactions is what the difference is between a leader and great leader. 

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 30 May 2023.