Did you know your browser is out of date?

To get the best possible experience using our website we recommmend that you upgrade to a newer version or other web browser. IE8 is no longer supported. A list of the most popular web browsers can be found below. Click on the links to get to the download page.

Our history

Ara Taiohi was established in 2010 to support people who work with young people, thereby enhancing youth development.

It came out of New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) and the National Youth Workers Network Aotearoa (NYWNA) coming together to form a new national youth sector organisation. The combined experience, know-how and trusting relationships NZAAHD and NYWNA had developed over the two previous decades, allowed them to create a vision to lead, support and energise the youth sector.

The name of the new organisation was chosen in consultation with Māori executive members of NZAAHD and NYWNA and their two kaumatua, Tamati Cairns and Ruru Hona.

‘Ara’ means ‘pathway, lane, passageway to/from’ and ‘taiohi’ means ‘young person’ in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  Ara Taiohi - Pathway to and from young people.

The transition

A transition committee was set up to oversee the process of winding up NZAAHD and NYWNA and developing Ara Taiohi alongside the boards of each organisation. The members of the transition committee spent over a year developing and breathing life into Ara Taiohi. Thanks goes to: members of the transition committee Trissel Mayor, Rod Baxter, Ruru Hona, Rebecca Blaikie, John Harrington, Kirsten Smith and Hilary Sumpter; members of Te Wahanga Māori and Te Ropu  Elizabeth Kerekere, Cherrill Rave and James Makowharemahihi; and the transition managers Petra van den Munckhof and Pip Desmond .

Ara Taiohi was launched at the Involve national youth sector conference in November 2010 and became fully operational at the inaugural AGM in February 2011. NYWNA and NZAAHD wound up officially on 31 March 2011.

There is a long history of large national youth organisations establishing umbrella organisations as a way to ‘provide a national voice on youth organisation interests’.

1960’s The large national youth organisations (YMCA, YWCA, Scouts, Boys and Girls Brigade, CYMM, Guides) came together to form the National Youth Council. The Council acted as an umbrella organisation for the youth sector – responsible for working with government and coordinating the sector. 

Late 70’s The focus of the Youth Council shifted from being a forum for large organisations to more of a political advocacy group for young people working on issues of Māori land rights, racism and sexism. 

1980’s Constitutional changes opened the Council up to greater diversity through enabling regional and local youth organisations to join. The Council was restructured to a tauiwi/tangata whenua structure. It ceased operating in 1989.

1988 The large national youth programmes such as Guides New Zealand, Scouting New Zealand, Girls Brigade, Boys Brigade, Venturers, Rangers and YMCA came together, out of the Youth Council to form the Federation of New Zealand Youth Organisations (FONZYO). 

1989 NZAAHD was established as a national umbrella organisation with a focus on youth health and youth development.

1997 NYWNA was established as a national umbrella network for youth work.

2003/2004 FONZYO started discussions around dis-establishing due to ‘low level of activity and no income’.

2008/2009 The national YMCA, Auckland Youthline and FYD established a group called 'The Alliance' - an agreement of the three organisations to work together to strengthen the youth development sector.

2009 NZAAHD was the only national umbrella organisation for the youth sector still operating, as NYWNA lost its funding this year. 

2010 Ara Taiohi was launched and became operational in 2011 with the purpose of providing ‘one voice’ for the youth sector. Based on a general belief that the sector was too fragmented an agreement was made between NZAAHD and NYWNA to start a new and singular ‘national body for the youth sector’. 

*abridged history to 1995 taken from ‘A Background to Youth Work in Aotearoa NZ’ a paper presented by David Hanna to the National Youth Workers Hui in March 1995 – a version can be found as Appendix Two Of Real Work.