Blenheim teen Jonathan Cash was surprised at how much fun he had at the Sir Peter Blake Youth EnviroLeaders' Forum last week.
Though the days were very busy and long, starting at 7am and finishing at 10pm, he said he made friends and enjoyed the talks and activities.
The 11th annual youth forum was held in Wellington from April 27 to May 1. The five-day adventure included a visit to Parliament, rowing and sailing in Wellington harbour, a night tour and dinner at Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary and speaking in parliament's debating rooms.
Jonathan, a Marlborough Boys' College student, said speaking in Parliament was an amazing experience and he wouldn't mind doing it again.
"To be given the opportunity to air our views in front of the local MP, the Sir Peter Blake Trust and other delegates on what environmental changes we would like implemented at home was priceless," he said.
He told them he felt extremely lucky to live in Marlborough, with the Marlborough Sounds on his doorstep and its abundant wildlife, including the tuatara, the Maud Island frog, tomtits and takahe.
He told the delegates he was concerned that his children and grandchildren would not be able to experience the same flora and fauna unless the public began to say no to wasteful packaging and start to refuse, reuse and recycle.
"It's about change, changing minds about expensive small product packaging and changing people's actions," he said.
Another activity that stood out were the team building exercises at Trentham Army Base. The teens met marines, paratroopers and an air force F16 pilot.
Jonathan was inspired by their positive attitudes and was encouraged by their planning skills and motivation. "Some of them had just returned from Afghanistan and still they were willing to take the time to share their leadership skills with us."
He also really enjoyed the presentations by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).
He always knew New Zealand's economy was largely linked with fishing, but was surprised to hear the market was worth $1.3 billion and that New Zealand was responsible for about 10 per cent of the world's waters. "The youth need to know the facts, otherwise we don't realise just how big a deal loosing it would be."
Is the region better served by having multiple events over one weekend or spread out throughout the year?Related story: (See story)