The Youth Mentoring Network

About Us

The value of mentoring

About Youth Mentoring

Mentoring is about helping young people establish a sense of identity, and to develop positive aspirations for their furture, so that they can grow and florish to their full potential 

A definition of Youth Mentoring

Mentoring aims to provide a purposeful, structured and trusting relationship, that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement.”  New Zealand Youth Mentoring Network

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“One good relationship can transform a life; it can become the means by which a young person connects with others, with teachers and schools, with their future prospects and potential  (Rhodes, 2002).”

For many young people, having someone other than their parents/caregivers who offers guidance, support and encouragement, is a natural part of life. For others this is not the case and they may need help finding an adult who is going to be a reliable, positive and trustworthy guide. As the opportunities for natural mentoring relationships have declined in modern society, a spectrum of structured and purposeful youth mentoring programmes have arisen, providing the connections that would otherwise be lacking.

Forms of youth mentoring

In Aotearoa New Zealand, formal youth mentoring programmes started to emerge in the mid-1990s and the sector has continued to develop over the last 20 years. 

Today there are approximately 40 programmes registered on the NZYMN website. We know anecdotally that many more formal mentoring progress exist, and the number registered on our NZYMN website continues to grow as more organisations connect with the Network.  

In summary, the youth mentoring landscape can be classified under two broad categories: 

  • Informal mentoring: includes natural mentors/very important people (VIPs) – adults who offer mentoring support to a young person outside an established youth programme e.g., sports coaches, teachers, and family friends.
  • Formal mentoring:
    • Standalone mentoring programmes: specialist structured youth mentoring programmes where the primary role of the programme is youth mentoring e.g., Big Brothers Big Sisters NZ; Pillars; Big Buddy.
    • Youth development programmes: offering a mentoring service as a component of the existing youth work they are undertaking e.g., Youth One Stop Shops; iwi social services agencies; Youth Horizons.

The focus of the mentoring is very much governed by the youth population being served, and the outcomes programmes are aiming to achieve. Programmes may focus on assisting young people to:

  • achieve educational goals
  • achieve vocational / career goals
  • build confidence, self-belief, resilience
  • avoid anti-social behaviour and encourage connectedness in their community
  • develop strong interpersonal relationships with their family and peers
  • grow in their understanding of their culture and identity and to be able to exercise this in their community
  • engage in sport and physical activity to improve health and fitness.

The desired outcomes also help determine the type of mentoring undertaken and the most appropriate setting for it to take place.

The types of mentoring undertaken can be classified:

  • Traditional mentoring (one adult to one young person)
  • Group mentoring (one adult with a group of four to five young people)
  • Team mentoring (several adults working with a small group of young people)
  • Peer mentoring (youth mentoring other youth)
  • E-mentoring (using technology such as email or skype as a primary form of communication)
  • Mixed delivery mentoring (using a combination of mentoring types)

Mentoring takes place in an array of settings.  Broadly these fall into three main areas:

  • Site-based programmes occur at designated locations such as schools, churches, marae, youth centres, youth justice facilities, sports clubs, tertiary institutions etc
  • In Community-based programmes mentoring pairs tend to operate fairly independently, deciding and organising where to meet and what activities to do together
  • E-mentoring take place in a virtual community, with chats between mentors and mentees occurring via the internet. 

“One good relationship can transform a life; it can become the means by which a young person connects with others, with teachers and schools, with their future prospects and potential  (Rhodes, 2002).”