Whilst the primary audience for the original YDSA included policymakers, public sector agencies, and other government contracted service providers, the YDSA offered a vision, goals and principles to any organisation, group or individual interested in supporting the positive development and wellbeing of young people in this country (MYA, 2002). Seventeen years on, we have experienced many changes in the political landscape that have influenced young people and people working with young people in Aotearoa New Zealand. This includes changes that, until now, have invisibilised the YDSA in the policy context (Beals, 2015; Deane & Shepherd, 2016).
The YDSA’s principles have, nevertheless, remained the indomitable pillars of practice for the youth development sector. These principles provide the foundation for The Code of Ethics for Youthwork in Aotearoa New Zealand (Ara Taiohi, 2011), henceforth referred to as the Code of Ethics, and the competencies for Youth Worker accreditation by Aotearoa.
New Zealand’s first professional association for Youth Workers, Korowai Tupu o Ara Taiohi (Ara Taiohi, 2019). They have also shaped the core content of youth development education with certificates, diplomas and degrees requiring graduates to have knowledge of the YDSA. As such they have provided a working definition of “youth development” for Aotearoa New Zealand. Moreover, wide consultation conducted as part of the current review of the YDSA indicates that those engaged with the youth development sector still feel that the broad principles are relevant and useful.
If we are to stay true to the YDSA principles, however, we must continue to engage with and be informed by “good information” (YDSA Principle 6). This includes making evidence-informed decisions regarding potential changes to the YDSA and its principles rather than blindly sticking to the status quo. New Zealand society has undergone substantial changes over the past 20 years and young people today deserve renewed attention to the policies and practices that affect them. Collecting evidence to inform these decisions must therefore encompass the direct perspectives of young people and people who work with young people, as well as evidence derived from relevant research.
Kupenga Kete Framework for Te Arotake YDSA
In order to encompass the range of contributions for the overall Arotake (review), and to reflect calls for a kaupapa Māori and Treaty-based concept, a Māori framework was developed. The Kete Kupenga framework, produced by the third author, is inspired by the pictured kete which uses a kupenga (fishing net) weave.
The Kete Kupenga framework features a loose diamond weave which starts simply and develops into an intricate knot where double strands meet. The four double strands feeding into the knot represent the components of intersectional youth development, Te Ao Māori (Māori world), Taiohi (young people), Kaimahi (workers: people who work with young people) and Mātauranga (knowledges, research). The knots themselves represent key points of whakapapa in those intersections such as events or publications. The space between the weave represents wairua, time and place. It builds on and contextualises the Whatu Raranga strategic framework of Ara Taiohi which features woven items to represent strategic goals: Rourou: connect the sector – whakawhanaungatanga; Kete: raise the standards – whakamanatanga; Korowai: champion youth development – taiohitanga; and Waikawa: promote sustainability – rōnakitanga.
Te Ao Māori strands are reflected in the use of te reo Māori and Māori frameworks. In addition to gathering Māori voices across all of the strands, this Aotearoa- based youth development literature review, entitled Ngā Tikanga Whānaketanga – He Arotake Tuhinga (roughly translated as “document review on the principles of youth development”) is guided by Māori youth and community development models.
The Taiohi strands are reflected in the survey was conducted by youth-led organisation, ActionStation (2018), Ngā Kōrero Hauora o Ngā Taiohi, that engaged over 1000 young people and youth development professionals to examine what youth wellbeing looks like in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Ministry of Youth Development also facilitated a youth focus group (2019). This arotake tuhinga was informed by taiohi Māori critiques of the YDSA, and young people took part in the Pacific talanoa.
The Kaimahi strands are reflected in a national online survey and a workshop with over 300 participants at Involve 2018. In 2019, a series of regional consultations with young people and people who work with young people were held across the country. Alongside the regional hui, were specific hui for Ngā Kaihoe, Māori working with young people, with one talanoa for Pasifika youth practitioners and young people.
The Mātauranga strands are reflected in this arotake tuhinga and in the evidence review of the youth development landscape that was conducted by the Centre for Social Impact (CSI). CSI’s (2018) review reflected on the status and relevance of the YDSA since its introduction in 2002, as well as evidence from the youth development sector more broadly, to assess how a future national strategy for youth development could be mapped. The review presented data relating to protective and risk factors for young people today; a summative review of practice frameworks such as the Code of Ethics (Ara Taiohi, 2011) and Positive Youth Development in Aotearoa (Wayne Francis Charitable Trust – Youth Advisory Group, 2011); and characteristics of effective youth development programmes, such as early intervention, youth mentoring, and inclusion of whānau and community. The review also presented findings from a plenary session at the national Involve 2018 youth development conference focused on the future of the YDSA, and a smaller co-design workshop involving civil servants and practitioners interested in child and youth wellbeing (CSI, 2018). Although we will not reiterate details of the insights arising from these other activities, we refer to some of the findings in this arotake and encourage readers to explore these related resources.
Youth Development Research that Informed the Existing YDSA
Though not as prominent as the YDSA itself, McLaren (2002) produced an extensive youth development literature review, entitled Building Strengths, (McLaren, 2002). McLaren’s review was conducted concurrently with the development of the YDSA and focused predominantly on issues facing young people, whilst the YDSA was informed by extensive feedback MYA obtained from young people, youth workers, youth policymakers and other youth development experts across the country. Today, we are in a very different position with respect to the youth development research we have available to us, thus our approach to this literature review is quite different to that taken by McLaren almost 20 years ago.
McLaren’s (2002) literature review traversed a wide range of research on adolescent development focused on contextual and relational influences on positive outcomes. The review conceptualised positive adolescent development as effective navigation of the transition to adulthood, including mastery of key tasks associated with physical, sexual, cognitive, socioemotional and identity development challenges. McLaren highlights the importance of support through the adolescent transition period and draws on research focused on factors such as family structure, parenting styles, peer influences, school climate and structure, community connection, and participation in leisure activities and employment. The seminal research McLaren cited is still informative and, importantly, her recommendations for how to create positive outcomes for young people align well with the Positive Youth Development (PYD) perspective that has gained ground overseas since the late 20th century (see Damon, 2004; Hamilton, Hamilton, & Pittman, 2004; Lerner, 2005). This includes the importance of building young people’s strengths through high quality relationships, surrounding them with positive influences and rich resources, and engaging them in constructive activities and well- structured educational opportunities.
On the other hand, McLaren’s (2002) review contained a meager amount of New Zealand-based research. She acknowledged there was very little New Zealand youth development research available at the time of writing, particularly research on Māori youth. Where she could locate some, it was incorporated. This major limitation was likely influenced by her confined scope, given she prioritised quantitative research derived from statistically robust methodological designs (McLaren, 2002).
Relatedly, McLaren’s review represents a narrow, Westernised and predominantly psychological perspective of individualised development that obscures important cultural and socio-structural perspectives and sits in tension with indigenous and other collectivist ways of knowing. Further, youth voices and minority youth experiences are notably absent. This is not uncharacteristic of youth development research (Keelan, 2014; Ware, 2009), especially prior to the 21st century. Keelan (2014) has acknowledged that New Zealand youth development research, particularly indigenous research, was scarce 20 years ago. Nevertheless, relevant mātauranga Māori models of human development (Anae, Moewaka Barnes, McCreanor, & Watson, 2002; Keelan, 2014) and documentation of traditional Māori child and youth development practices certainly existed (Baxter, Caddie & Bidois Cameron, 2016; Te Ora Hou, 2011). Consequently, many New Zealand scholars conducting youth-focused research have expressed related critiques (e.g., Anae et al., 2002: Beals, 2008a, 2015; Beals, Foaese, Miller, Perkins, & Sargent, 2018; Bullen, Deane, Meissel, & Bhatnagar, 2019; France, 2012; Keelan, 2014; Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010).
The absence of a Te Ao Māori perspective of youth development is a glaring omission for a literature review meant to support the development of a strategy that should be bicultural, and where the first principle highlights the obligations we have to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi), as the nation’s founding constitutional document. McLaren (2002) argued that, in the absence of New Zealand research, cross-cultural findings were included to supplement the predominantly U.S.-based research in her review to demonstrate that findings related to principles for promoting positive youth development outcomes were largely stable across cultures. However, important differences between cultural and cross-cultural research undermines the applicability of the latter to demonstrate how cultural values, norms and experience shape a person’s thoughts and behaviours. Important cultural perspectives are lost if we restrict ourselves to the insights gained from cross-cultural research alone.
Recent Advances in Aotearoa New Zealand Youth Development Research
There is no paucity of New Zealand-based youth development research today. The field has burgeoned over the past two decades, as evidenced in this arotake. The YDSA itself provoked responses from Māori youth development scholars who criticised the strategy for its Western orientation (Keelan, 2014; Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010) and its disconnection from the lived experiences of taiohi (young) Māori (Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh- Tapiata, 2010). Researchers and practitioners have since developed frameworks, models and principles grounded in Te Ao Māori concepts (Baxter et al, 2016; Caddie, 2011, Keelan, 2003, 2014; Simmonds, Harré & Crengle, 2014; Hurst, 2017; Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010).
We have also seen the presence of Pasifika models gain visibility in the youth development space. Anae et al. (2002) drew attention to the criticality of understanding the concept of “Va” for Samoan youth wellbeing, referring to the “space between people, which at once joins and separates them” (p. 8). The concept of Va also surfaces in the most recent guide produced by the New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network (2019), along with Luafutu-Simpson’s Fausiga O Le Fale Tele framework for exploring Samoan values with young people. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) also published the Auckland Pacific Youth Development Strategy based on consultation with the Pasifika community in 2005, though it has since disappeared from discussions about youth development.
There are now numerous theses focused on youth in New Zealand, youth development programme evaluations are far more prolific, three full length books have been dedicated to youth work in Aotearoa New Zealand and another exclusively on Māori Youth Development (Keelan, 2014). In addition to this extensive knowledge base, we have also hugely benefitted from several large scale youth-focused research projects that have collectively generated hundreds of research reports and peer-reviewed journal articles focused on the wellbeing and development of youth in this country. The Adolescent Health Research Group’s (AHRG) Youth 2000 Series has produced the most comprehensive picture of the health and wellbeing of young New Zealanders to date through its representative Youth ’01, Youth ’07 and Youth ’12 surveys of 8000–10,000 secondary school students. AHRG has also produced numerous reports and presentations on youth subpopulations including Māori, Pacific, Asian, migrant, same and both-sex attracted, and transgender youth; youth with disabilities; and youth enrolled in Alternative Education and Teen Parent Units (See here for a comprehensive list of AHRG publications).
The Youth Pathways & Transitions research projects led by Munford and Sanders at Massey University for the New Zealand component of an international resilience research programme have included approximately 1500 young people. Together the projects have produced well over 50 peer-reviewed publications and the projects have informed a strengths-based model, PARTH, for practice with vulnerable youth (See here for a comprehensive list of Youth Pathways & Transitions publications).
The research produced from the now concluded Youth Connectedness Project led by a team at Victoria University Wellington is also insightful.
Evidently, in 2019, we cannot make the excuse that we have little New Zealand based research upon which to make evidence-informed policy and practice decisions. We do – and the research that exists offers rich and varied perspectives of young people’s experiences in Aotearoa New Zealand, the kind that are important for effectively supporting the holistic development of our very diverse young people. It’s drawbacks notwithstanding, the YDSA has frequently been cited as a grounding framework for youth development in New Zealand by many scholars (Baxter et al., 2016; Beals, 2008b, 2015; Beals et al., 2018; Deane & Shepherd, 2016; Farruggia & Bullen, 2010; Hurst, 2017; Martin, 2006) and needs to be acknowledged not only for its foundational role in youth development practice, but for mobilising research for the sector. Simultaneously, researchers have called for its review and revitalization, particularly with respect to the integration of non- Western perspectives (Beals 2015; Beals et al., 2018; Deane & Shepherd, 2016) thus it is heartening that this review is underway.
The Scope, Limitations, and Approach to He Arotake Tuhinga
Because there is now ample youth research to draw on from the Aotearoa context, resource and time constraints required us to narrow our scope. As a result, the following arotake only contains research produced from 2002 onwards that explicitly focuses on young people aged 12 to 24 years (as per Ara Taiohi and MYD’s definitions of youth, adapted from the UN definition) in the Aotearoa New Zealand context and their development or wellbeing. We have included theoretical, conceptual, and empirical research produced from qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methods designs, reviews and commentaries published in book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles, and reports. However, we have largely excluded conference papers, other presentations, and policy documents that do not incorporate research.
Being mindful of our own disciplinary and personal biases toward research on youth development, we engaged in consultation with individuals across New Zealand who are engaged with youth research before we embarked on the task of conducting the arotake. With the support of Ara Taiohi, we solicited online feedback from these individuals regarding the YDSA’s strengths and drawbacks and the theories and research they felt were important for advancing the field. We then engaged a small group of research- engaged “critical friends” in a workshop geared to collectively determine the shape and structure of the arotake tuhinga. The feedback from this workshop highlighted the importance of:
- a Te Ao Māori orientation and inclusion of the YDSA’s whakapapa;
- attention to other diversity and equity perspectives;
- a predominant focus on Aotearoa New Zealand research;
- incorporation of multidisciplinary perspectives, qualitative research and research that augments youth voices;
- and using the existing YDSA principles as a loose organising structure, while remaining open to additional principles or frameworks supported by research.
Our limited project resources also meant that we have prioritised research the consulted individuals signaled they felt was important. In this sense, this is primarily a crowd-sourced youth development arotake tuhinga, supplemented by our own knowledge of research in this space, and a review that we hope honours the diverse perspectives of the research-engaged individuals who participated in our consultation process. Even with those delimiting parameters, we could not capture the full breadth of recommended research in this written research synthesis; therefore, we have also produced an accompanying bibliography that contains a greater range of research than the studies cited in this document.
The bibliography will be housed on Ara Taiohi’s Research Directory available at http://www.arataiohi. org.nz/. Our vision is for this to be a useful repository of New Zealand-based youth development research that could become a “living” database where additional studies be added.
The Organising Framework for He Arotake Tuhinga
We began by categorising literature according to the existing YDSA principles, as recommended, while noting some of the challenges we encountered in doing this. The three authors then met to discuss these challenges and the feedback that had come through the consultation process thus far. We opted to set the YDSA principles aside and review the principles discussed in Māori-specific youth development literature to then see how Te Ao Māori concepts aligned with the existing principles. In this way, research literature, consultation feedback and the existing principles mutually informed the organising framework for this arotake tuhinga.
To elaborate, we initially struggled to categorise youth identity research within the existing principles. The topic of identity does not feature strongly in the existing YDSA. There is acknowledgement that the “big picture” shapes personal and cultural identities, that low self-esteem is a risk factor, and that identity is a “key issue for specific groups of young people” (MYA, 2002, p. 40 – 43). Fostering positive identities in young people is also mentioned as a goal of the YDSA. The sparse comments related to identity in the YDSA do not, however, align with the considerable multidisciplinary research that exists on young people’s experiences of identity exploration and development within the contexts of family/whānau, peers, culture, sexuality, gender, programme and community participation, and a globalised world. Some of the challenges of positioning identity within a single existing principle may stem from the different ways that identity is constructed within Māori compared to within Western worldviews, where the constructions of the former align more closely with PYD notions of connection and the latter with confidence (Arahanga-Doyle et al., 2018). Identity, like quality relationships, connection, and participation influences and is influenced by the other YDSA principles, hence we felt it was important to draw explicit attention to identity in this arotake.
The description of the third YDSA principle that “youth development is based on a consistent strengths-based approach” was also limiting with respect to categorising relevant research. Whilst Principle 3 encourages a move away from seeing youth as problems and promoting protective factors (including connection and participation) to mitigate risk, the risk and protection approach to youth development is inherently deficit-focused and grounded in a history of risk psychology that marginalises non-normative young people and sees problems (and therefore solutions) as residing with individuals and their families (Beals, 2015). In contrast, the strengths-based perspective, as described in other literature, emphasises core aspects that are lacking in the description of Principle 3. For instance, a focus on a young person’s inherent potential, talent, passion, and agency; understanding and working with youth from a systems and community-engaged perspective (Farruggia & Bullen, 2010); empowering youth by affirming their strengths; collaborating with them to use their assets; and facilitating their sense of belonging (Keelan, 2014; Kerekere 2017a, 2017b); Wayne Francis Charitable Trust – Youth Advisory Group, 2011). In this way, a strengths-based approach cuts across many of the YDSA principles and we considered that the organising frames used for this arotake tuhinga should collectively represent a strengths-based approach.
The six organising frames for this arotake initially stemmed from an analysis of research led by Keelan (2014) and Ware (Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010). These researchers have explicitly critiqued the YDSA from a tangata whenua perspective and have challenged us to first look to Māori approaches. Accordingly, Keelan’s full text on Māori Youth Development, Nga Reanga, draws on lessons from pūrākau (stories) of Māui, “an ancestral hero, a role model of what to do and not to do” (Keelan, 2014, p.V) and the three models of youth development described in her text also draw inspiration from whakataukī and mātauranga Māori concepts. Equally, Ware (2009) used Māui pūrākau to identify constructs that were relevant to taiohi Māori and used these to guide discussions about tikanga (cultural values) and āhuatanga (characteristics or qualities) that eight taiohi Māori felt were important to their development.
Keelan’s (2002) Taiohi Māori Development Toolkit, developed as part of a set of resources associated with the YDSA and to inform a national youth suicide strategy, takes its inspiration from Sir Apirana Ngata’s whakataukī – E Tipu e Rea – written for Ranginui Walker. Her translation of E Tipu e Rea draws attention to themes associated with the time and place of adolescence, cultural heritage and positive cultural identity but also the benefit of exploring different cultural worlds and resources, and spiritual integrity (Keelan, 2014). Keelan interprets the fishing metaphor reflected in Karetu’s whakataukī “Ka pu te ruha ka hao te rangatahi” in relation to emerging leadership. She points to the need for preparation and a readiness to learn, a safe and supportive environment in which one can take risks yet seek guidance, where generosity and commitment are of prime importance and where achievements are celebrated. Finally, her MĀUI model of youth entrepreneur development proposes that development stems from the core concepts of Mauri (the inherent life force or spark), Mana (authority derived from relationships with others), Āta (careful reflection and planning), and Arataki (leadership).
Ware and Walsh-Tapiata’s research also explicitly emphasised the importance of Mana (which they defined as collective integrity and responsibility), Manaakitanga (collective wellbeing), and Whanaungatanga (relationship building). These three broad cultural values were seen to drive the qualities of Māia (confidence), Manawanui (resilience), Ihumanea (innovation), and Mahaki (humility) that resonated with the taiohi Māori who they interviewed (Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010).
Kerekere (2015, 20017a, 2017b) discussed youth development from a takatāpui (Māori LGBTIQ) perspective. Her definition of takatāpui speaks to Whakapapa (descent from ancestors with sexual and gender fluidity), Mana (authority and power to be who we are), Identity (claiming all of who we are – culture, gender, sexuality and ability), and Inclusion (unity across all iwi, genders, sexualities and sex characteristics). Kerekere’s Whare Takatāpui model (2017b) describes a place of wellbeing and safety that addresses the impact of colonisation on people with diverse genders, sexualities and sex characteristics. It includes additional values of Wairua (interconnectedness of all things in the universe particularly ancestors and atua), Mauri (life spark, identity choice and expression), Mana Wāhine (restoration of gender balance and the basis of eliminating homophobia, transphobia and biphobia), Tapu (maintaining safety and boundaries), and Tikanga (processes based on sound mātauranga).
Te Ora Hou’s model of practice with youth and whānau shares a great deal with the above frameworks. Their Maia model emphasises concepts based on Durie’s essential principles for Māori whānau and community wellbeing, and the Circle of Courage, a well-known youth development model grounded in Native American principles (Baxter et al., 2016; Te Ora Hou, 2011; Wayne Francis Charitable Trust – Youth Advisory Group, 2011). The core of the model illustrates essential ingredients for identity, belonging and support of youth as embedded in whānau, hapū and iwi. The ingredients include Ohaoha (generosity and contribution, Pukengatanga (mastery and competence through elder-youth mentoring relationships), and Mana Motuhake (independence and mastery). These ingredients are nourished through Whakamana (empowerment and participation), Whakatakato Tikanga (future planning), Manaakitia (whānau care), Pupuri taonga (effective resource management), Whakapūmau Tikanga (cultural integrity and affirmation), and Whakawhānaungatanga (whānau consensus and cohesion).
Similar concepts are expressed in Luafutu-Simpson’s Fausiga O Le Fale Tele model of Samoan values to teach to children (as cited in NZYMN, 2019). Simmonds et al.’s (2014) Te Kete Whanakentanga – Rangatahi, a conceptual model of Māori positive youth development likewise emphasises the importance of a holistic, relational and systems approach that deeply considers culture and history, as do contemporary international models of positive youth development, the majority of which stem from Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model of human development (Farruggia & Bullen, 2010; Keelan, 2014; Ware, 2009).
To this last point, there are, in fact, remarkable similarities between mātauranga Māori models and oft-cited overseas models of positive youth development (Anae et al., 2002), so it is not a case of mātauranga Māori only being of benefit to taiohi Māori. The principles for positive development of taiohi Māori are largely the active ingredients of positive development for all youth. Thus we are not advocating for the need to throw out Western models of youth development. Instead, we contend, alongside others (Beals, 2015; Beals et al., 2018; Keelan, 2014; Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010), that Māori and Aotearoa-based models should orient our analysis of Western perspectives and not the other way around.
The salient themes we noted across these scholarly, culturally and practice-informed discussions were of Mauri (potential, passion and identity); Mana (agency, integrity and inborn value deserving of respect); Manaakitanga (care, generosity and investment in relationships where the collective responsibility lies with the side with greater power or authority); and Whanaungatanga (inherent need for connection, sense of belonging and positive relationships, particularly with those considered whānau). Interconnectedness is also represented through Whakapapa (systems that link cultural heritage, historical events, stories, and policies that have culminated in the here and now). Finally, Mātauranga speaks to the importance of sharing the valuable knowledge we have accumulated from different perspectives and different sources over time to inform the way forward.
These six mātauranga Māori concepts: Whakapapa, Mauri, Mana, Manaakitanga, Whānaungatanga, and Mātauranga form the organising frames of this arotake tuhinga. They are not direct translations of the six existing YDSA principles. Had they been, we would be continuing to endorse a cultural “add- on” approach (Trickett, 2015, p. 201) to what are, in essence, Western constructs – an approach that has produced substantial “cultural cringe” here in New Zealand (Keelan, 2014, p. 5; see also Anae et al., 2002; Beals, 2015; Beals et al., 2018; Ware, 2009; Ware & Walsh-Tapiata, 2010).
This is the whakapapa of the organising frames for the literature synthesis that follows, each with a more detailed descriptive introduction that refers to links with the existing YDSA principles. We begin with Whakapapa as the orientation that connects the past to the present and the future. We then move to Mauri and Mana, essential qualities of young people. Sections focused on Manaakitanga and Whanaungatanga follow which emphasise the supportive context required to foster youth development, and Mātauranga summarises where we are currently placed in terms of good information for youth development in Aotearoa. Woven together, this information guides our conclusions and recommendations for the future.
Recognise, value and invest in youth development approaches informed first by home-grown Māori youth development models in concert with Western approaches – approaches that:
1) affirm young people’s mauri,
2) enhances their mana,
3) are characterised by manaakitanga,
4) facilitate whanaungatanga,
5) remain mindful of young people’s whakapapa, and 6) are informed by rich and diverse mātauranga.