My name is Chris Cookson and I am the Youth Employment Plus Rotorua (YEP R) manager at the Rotorua Community Youth Centre Trust. I work alongside the Youth Worker/Navigators and our Employment Broker in the YEP R team to support our rangatahi into mahi.

I was born and bred in Rotorua (Rotokawa) and am Te Arawa (Ngati Uenukukopako and Ngati Rangiteaorere) on my fathers side and Ngati Kahungungu ki Wairarapa and Ngai Tahu ki Murihiku on my mothers.

I attended Owhata primary, Rotorua Intermediate and Western Heights High School before joining the Royal New Zealand Navy from 1974 to 2008. I have travelled the world extensively but firmly believe the old adage, there is no place like home. Myself and my partner Renee, have five children and 12 grandchildren between us with our youngest son currently at Mokoia Intermediate. I am a staunch Rugby Union supporter but also enjoy watching our youngest play soccer.

I have only recently returned from Australia where I worked with Indigenous people in the remote areas of the Northern Territory and prior to that I was part of the Youth Development team at Te Waiariki Purea Trust here in Rotorua.

My current immediate goal is to reinforce the YEP R team to increase the number of young people being placed into and supported in employment in Rotorua.