On the rise . . . Ethan Reille was selected as one of 15 members of The Hive this year. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

A last-minute dash to apply for a national group has turned out to be one of the best decisions Ethan Reille has ever made.

Two hours before applications for The Hive group closed, Ethan created a short video answering the question “what change would you like to see in the world?”

The Waitaki Boys’ High School pupil was one of 15 successful applicants, from 80 entries, for The Hive.

The Hive is a national group intended to bridge the gap between the youth voice and the central government. It was designed for people aged 16 to 21, and Ethan (16) was the youngest participant this year.

He spent two days in Auckland during the school holidays looking at issues faced by New Zealanders, especially youth. The Hive chose to focus on the housing crisis this year, as it was a widespread issue, Ethan said.

“We thought that young people need to have their say on it because knowing that over half our homeless are young people I think in 2021 is unacceptable and to know as a young person that I may not at this current stage be able to own my own home I think is something that needs to be answered by central government,” Ethan said.

Participants were split into smaller groups to come up with ways to address the issues, and the ideas would be collated to make a bigger project the group would roll out, Ethan said.

His group wanted to create a documentary series surveying individual youth minorities including Maori and Pasifika, the LGBTQI+ community, and at-risk teenagers living in abusive households or those deemed homeless. Other ideas involved educational opportunities in schools.

“Although we may not see the impacts of the housing crisis firsthand within Waitaki, it doesn’t exclude ourselves from it. I know of so many young people that are being impacted by it and are jumping from house to house, based on all differing circumstances.”

Another meeting, via Zoom, would be held in a couple of weeks and The Hive members would nail down the project for the year.

It was an insightful two days working with like-minded people, and Ethan said the reality of the country’s housing crisis hit home when he walked along Auckland’s Queen St and counted 17 homeless people.

“For me, it made me quite frustrated because the Government was happy to accommodate 15 young people over a weekend, yet we still have homeless people on our streets,” he said.

The Hive’s work was important to help close the divide between the Government and youth. He left feeling empowered.

“It gives me the drive to keep doing it and finding ways that we can be supporting our young people.”

The Hive would work with Minister for Youth Priyanca Radhakrishnan throughout the year, and meet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Ethan would be part of The Hive until May next year.