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Otaki Youth MP heading to parliament

Post Date: 18 Dec 18       Category

Article courtesy of Horowhenua Chronicle

"He's very engaged in politics and youth issues.  He interviewed really well too", said Otaki MP Nathan Guy about his brand new youth MP, Jamie Harper.  Reason enough to pick him as the next youth MP for the Otaki eloectorate.

Jamie was one of two young people interviewed by the MP, who will be Jamie's mentor for the next eight months as he first prepares, then exercises his duty as youth MP.  Six students applied for this job.

The session for the ninth youth parliament starts on March 1 2019 and goes on until August 31.  The highlight will be a two day session in parliament on July 16 and 17 when the youth MPs will take over the place.  
They will give speeches, hold a debate, have a select committee meeting or will sit in the press gallery.  No adults are allowed in the house during that time.

The youth parliament was established in 1994 to celebrate the lowering of the voting age at that time.

Before the start of the next youth parliament, Jamie, a Year 11 student from Horowhenua College, will be introduced to the inner workings of parliament as much as possible and as time allows.

"I am encouraging him to come to Wellington to get a feel for the place.  This way the time in the debating chamber won't come as a surprise and he'll do well," said Nathan Guy, who doesn't doubt Jamie's ability to articulate issues, nor his gift of the gab.

As youth MP, Jamie wants to engage young people around the electorate in politics.  Youth mental health is an issue that's getting bigger each year, said Jamie.  He would like to see easier access to services for young people.  He said the stigma that says not to tell people you are not feeling too good needs to go.  "It is OK to say you are struggling."

Another hot topic will be transportation into Wellington, as is NCEA, where more clarity is required, he said.

Jamie and his mentor will work out a plan of action for the next few months on how to engage youth.  This may include designing a survey, setting up a Facebook page and visits to all student councils at high schools within the electorate.

Jamie already sits on the student council of his school, but he would like to know what concerns students in other parts of the electorate.

He also wants to engage with youth who have jobs as well as those who are unemployed and hear their concerns.

"Decisions made in parliament affect everyone," is his message and he will be explaining why an interest in politics and exercising the right to vote are important.