Indigenous voice at Girls20 table in Japan

By Regan Paranihi

Arizona Leger has just returned from the annual Girls20 Global Summit in Japan, where she was chosen from thousands of applicants to represent an indigenous voice.

The summit discussed a range of global issues and Leger has her eyes on addressing many of those issues here in New Zealand.

This is the first time in 10 years that New Zealand has had a seat at this global table and for Leger this opportunity has been eye-opening.

"Our identity, our stories, our whakapapa allow us to be so much bigger and stronger in a room rather than defined. I think a lot of our young women here do fully understand that and I have just returned wanting to amplify that and create programmes that allow our young women to truly realise that," says Leger.

Twenty-four women from around the world attended the summit to address some of the worlds biggest issues, and see how they can work together on a global stage to tackle them.

"It was a really big task to discuss over a week, but it was something that was so necessary, and as I returned yesterday it was very very evident that it's a conversation I want to keep having here in Aotearoa for our young wahine," she says.

The indigenous seat was newly introduced to the summit last year and amongst the thousands of applicants that applied to be the delegate this year, Leger was fortunate enough to be selected.

"I went as the indigenous delegate and that meant not only representing Aotearoa but representing indigenous voices from all over the world."

She says it's important to have an indigenous voice amongst decision makers in order for them to see and hear the experiences of indigenous people.

"Our voice, in particular, needed to be at that table to challenge everyone to think about the indigenous peoples whilst making their decisions, and to really help them understand what indigenous meant," she says.

Leger hopes to share the knowledge she gained from the summit with rangatahi across New Zealand.

"I want to get into schools and talk to them about the confidence they can have in their stories, the confidence they can have in their lineage, and really create a platform for them to be empowered to be the most employable person possible, so we can get more representation in higher places in management around Aotearoa and wider."

She also hopes that more females from New Zealand will get the same opportunity she has been given.