Having the opportunity to be the North Shore’s Youth MP for Simon Watts is an incredible honour and opportunity that doesn’t walk past every day. Being the local Youth MP, there has been an exciting plethora of doors that have opened to further immerse myself in politics, the community and more.
For those unaware of the Youth MP position, the role is attached to a unique, and spectacular part of New Zealand Parliament, Youth Parliament. Youth Parliament runs every three years, and on every third year, each MP across the motu selects a young person aged around 16-19 to represent them and their electorate. Throughout the year, the Youth MPs get the privilege to work alongside their MP, initiate a community project, engage with local schools, and importantly, learn more about the role that parliament plays within the local community. So far this year, I have held a small beach clean-up to celebrate Youth Week, but I am particularly focusing on the issue of youth mental health. I am currently organising my project, a Youth Mental Health Forum, aiming to create opportunities to hear from North Shore youth leaders on improving mental health for rangatahi.
As well as community projects, all the Youth MPs travel to Wellington and take part in the three day Youth Parliament event, which this year, will be held towards the end of July. The Youth Parliament provides a mock parliamentary experience, including debate over this year's mock bill which discusses the youth wage, questioning ministers, and general debate on issues of concerns to rangatahi. As well, each MP participates in a series of mock select committee sessions. This July, I will be part of the education select committee and I am looking forward to discussing some of the issues within the education system that affect youth today, particularly in regards to mental health. If you would like to engage with Youth Parliament, the Youth Parliament select committees are accepting submissions which will aid in the committee's final report. More information can be found on the New Zealand Parliament website.
A few weeks ago I was also lucky enough to travel down to Wellington for the day and shadow Simon Watts around Parliament. During the day I got a personal tour of Parliament, with the debating chamber and ornate Parliament house being a particular highlight. I also met other MPs and had an interesting chat with the National Spokesperson for Youth, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Matt Doocey, about the issues concerning youth mental health. Another highlight was having the opportunity to watch question time live in the Chamber.
A big thank you to Simon Watts and his team for organising this incredible experience!
As Youth MP, I look forward to the further opportunities and experiences of being involved in the beautiful community of the North Shore.