Take time to form high trust, reciprocal and intentional relationships with young people before jumping into the work. This ensures rangatahi feel safe to share their thoughts and feelings throughout a project.
What this can look like in practice:
- Partner with experts: Partner with a youth development organisation, youth worker or relatable role model who genuinely cares about rangatahi and is experienced at building trusted relationships with them.
- Go through existing relationships: Someone who already has an established relationship with rangatahi might include teachers, youth workers, youth groups, sports coaches and clubs, churches or other community groups and leaders.
- Learn from others: Learn from people who have gone through a genuine co-design process and can help you identify and navigate political processes and cultures.
- Build lasting relationships with rangatahi: Plan to - and invest time in - building strong relationships with a group of key rangatahi who are passionate about the project and may want to take a leadership role throughout. Given spatial projects can often span anywhere from five to 15 years, consider ways to maintain these relationships over a longer period – such as keeping young people informed even if they move away.
"We wanted to take away the token gesture of engagement – e.g. one workshop and no follow-through. The ongoing dialogue and conversations reflected that it is not a structured or linear process and that resonated with rangatahi because it is authentic".