The context for action.

From climate change to inequality, mental health to unemployment – we live in a world with urgent and complex problems that need solving. There’s never been a greater call for leadership. There’s never been a better time than now.

How Future Leaders started.

Future Leaders is an initiative of Inspiring Stories, a Kiwi charity founded in 2011 with the vision to see every young New Zealander unleash their potential to change the world. The Future Leaders programme grew out of a conversation between Inspiring Stories and the Mayor’s Taskforce for Jobs. We started with a simple question – how might we make a bigger difference for young people in rural and provincial New Zealand?

In 2016 we prototyped the programme for the first time, very small scale. We learnt a lot, and built those lessons into version 2.0, which ran in 2017. That year three out of the eighteen participants ended up winning Local Hero Medals as part of the New Zealander of the Year Awards, and achieved impressive outcomes for the young people involved. In 2018, the programme grew from 18 young people to more than 200.

Where are we going?

Our vision is that Future Leaders becomes transformative for young people and their communities, helping to create a more resilient, vibrant and sustainable Aotearoa New Zealand. At it’s core, the programme puts young people at the heart of creating solutions to the challenges they face in their backyard, building their capability and confidence, and a community of support around them. We’d like to scale it up nationwide.

Young people on the programme have reported significant increases in their sense of ambition, optimism, resilience, personal and social skills, entrepreneurship and leadership skills. We are working to develop and strengthen partnerships at the local and national level, and strengthen pathways into employment, entrepreneurship and leadership. If you’d like to be part of this journey or support in some way, get in touch.

What young people say about the programme.


“I’ve had a lot of adversity in my 24 years of life – two kids at age 17; unhealthy and abusive upbringing; and for me to come out on the other side taking the right path is such an accomplishment. I never really knew what potential I had. I’ve always been one to doubt myself. Even when others seen that potential, I just never could. My eyes have opened so much this year. My mindset has shifted to a much better place and I am so grateful for this programme.”
Gayle Moana-Johnson, Palmerston North


“Future Leaders equips you to become a great leader, with a focus on helping our local people. The most significant change for me personally was the new connections with people from all of Aotearoa, feeling more hopeful about the future, and learning how to go beyond my own limits. It was awesome to be able to work with you all. Ngā mihi nui kia koutou ngā kaiwhakahaere. Aroha nui.”
Te Riini McLean, Kawerau


“Confidence is something I’ve struggled with throughout my life due to my disability. Meeting all the wonderful like minded people, sharing ideas and passions with one another and speaking at Festival for the Future has given me the confidence boost I needed. The most significant change is that I have more confidence in with myself.” 
Aroha Lawrence, Kaikohe

Liam Doug_300x260.jpg

“The biggest impact I’ve gotten from the Future Leaders programme has been forming connections and relationships with people and seeing that other people can have a passion stirred up inside them so much that they can go out and use it to do exactly what they envision.”

Liam Douglas, Greymouth



Who's behind it.

The Future Leaders programme is run by Inspiring Stories, the Kiwi charity backing young New Zealanders to change the world.

The team at Inspiring Stories have built an impressive track record, having now supported thousands young New Zealanders to build their entrepreneurship and leadership capability, and their ideas to make a difference. Learn more >>