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Hosted at Iona on Friday, August 17, the Hawke’s Bay Model United Nations was an excellent opportunity for students to engage with UN Youth New Zealand. Delegates were given the opportunity to debate issues related to global human rights and the treatment of indigenous cultures.

Model UN conferences task students with representing a foreign country in a simulation of the United Nations. It challenges students to step outside their personal space and advocate for a viewpoint, culture or way of government that is very different from their own. Students were also challenged to work together in an interactive problem-solving workshop where they had to resolve an escalating conflict as NATO or Russia.

These activities not only challenged students’ critical thinking skills, world knowledge and interpersonal skills but encouraged them to become informed and engaged New Zealanders who understand their global context.

The event was organised as part of a regional outreach programme by UN Youth Wellington. Over 80 students attended the event from Hawke’s Bay secondary schools, including 23 from Iona, ranging across Years 9-11.

Model UN is a useful tool for sparking discussion about global issues and teaching skills in communication, negotiation, lobbying and research. It also provides civics education outside the traditional classroom context. The workshop and Model UN engage high school students in the most pressing affairs of their country and the international community. It also aims to inspire young New Zealanders to be global citizens in the rapidly globalising world of today. Global citizenship exists in an incredibly diverse range of forms, and UN Youth hopes to provide the opportunities for all young people to be the global citizens that they aspire to be.