Soapbox Column, Hamilton News, July 29 2016

News item
Friday, July 29, 2016

Waikato to the fore in Youth Parliament

 

Last week 121 young New Zealanders gathered in Wellington for the triennial Youth Parliament – and demonstrated that the political future of our country looks bright!

Each MP was represented by a carefully-chosen representative between 16-18 years of age. The Youth MPs participated in typical Parliamentary activities such as Select Committees, Caucus meetings, debates on mock legislation and other matters of keen interest to their peers, and the ever-popular Question Time – which put some ministers under real pressure!

Unfortunately, many of our Waikato representatives were delayed on day one by a mechanical problem with their aircraft, but they made up for lost time when they arrived and I was very impressed by all of them.  Well done Crystal Te Moananui, Kaleb Reid, Nisha Novell, Leah Bell, Anthony Bunnik, Veronica Manning, Javan Rose, and my own representative, Kiri Crossland of Glenview.

Youth Parliament is a wonderful opportunity for the young people of New Zealand to learn about our democratic traditions and parliamentary procedures, while having their say on important issues.  The event was a great success, but I was very disappointed that mainstream media failed to cover the proceedings, so I have asked Hamilton West’s MP to provide her own report of what took place and what it meant to her. Here is Kiri’s assessment:

 

Last week I had the pleasure of travelling to Wellington, representing Tim Macindoe as Youth MP for Hamilton West.

When we arrived in Wellington we were able to sit on Select Committees and vote on whether or not to pass our mock bill relating to internet accessibility for the disabled.  Many of the Youth MPs also had the opportunity to speak about an issue of their choice.  Speech topics ranged from bullying to mental health. One girl even spoke on why politicians should behave better!

I am so grateful to Tim and the organisers of Youth Parliament, as I have learned so much about politics during my short tenure.  I’ve always known my vote was important but after my time as Youth MP, I have a much deeper understanding of what it means to be part of a democracy and have come to believe that it’s the most important thing a young person can educate themselves on.  As one of the Youth MPs said, “We are the elders of tomorrow,” so we should be educating ourselves now so that we can lead society in the future.

 

Photo caption: Hamilton West’s Youth MP Kiri Crossland occupying the Senior Whip’s seat behind Youth Prime Minister Bianca Bailey