In February 2000, a group of seven Mayors from around New Zealand gathered in Christchurch to establish the Mayors Taskforce For Jobs. This initial group included former Mayors Garry Moore of Christchurch, Derek Fox of Wairoa, Sukhi Turner of Dunedin, Jenny Brash of Porirua, John Chaffey of Hurunui and Jill White of Palmerston North, and current Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt.
The year 2000 was pivotal as it represented the deadline set by the 1994 Prime Ministerial Taskforce on Employment which stated that no New Zealander would be out of work or training for longer than six months. The 1994 Taskforce had described unemployment as “New Zealand’s greatest challenge,” however, at the turn of the millennium, with 200,000 unemployed, the country’s issues with unemployment remained unresolved.
The newly- established MTFJ recognised the need to act more effectively on the issues of employment and livelihood, and focused on long-term strategies in these areas. The Core Group resolved that they could not continue the justification for the “waste of New Zealanders” through unemployment.
It was this group that acknowledged that communities, led by their Mayors, could play a crucial role in fostering employment opportunities for youth.
MTFJ has grown to now be a nationwide network of New Zealand’s Mayors. The Taskforce is led by Kawerau District Council Mayor Malcolm Campbell and Deputy Chaired by Manawatu District Council Mayor Margaret Kouvelis and Otorohanga District Council Mayor Max Baxter.
The Core Group within MTFJ holds quarterly meetings in Wellington with the Ministers and officials from government departments and holds responsibility for the overall vision, direction, leadership and strategic focus of MTFJ. Hon Steven Joyce is the lead Minister for MTFJ.
Operational support of the network is centralised in Wellington and operates out of the Local Government New Zealand Offices, led by Taskforce Coordinator Daniel Henderson.
A key focus of MTFJ is working with local employers, Iwi and training institutes to create job opportunities for under 25.