MPs in accord on youth parliament

By Luke East

They are political rivals, but Angela Roberts and Barbara Kuriger are agree on one thing – young people should consider applying to be part of the 10th New Zealand Youth Parliament.

Young activists, advocates and changemakers aged 16-18 can apply to take their unique perspectives to Parliament for the 2022 session, while budding journalists aged of 16-24 can join the Youth Parliament Press Gallery.

National’s Taranaki King Country MP Barbara Kuriger and Labour list MP Angela Roberts both encouraged young people send in their applications for a chance to be a Youth MP when the spoke to the News.

For Angela, as a first-term MP, this is something of a new experience.

Before coming to Parliament, she was a secondary-school teacher and says that when she was a teenager politics wasn’t even on her radar and unlike many of her colleagues (who were Youth MPs themselves) she couldn’t have conceived of one day being an MP.

As she chats with the Te Awamutu News it’s clear she has a great passion for young people and ensuring they have the best opportunities to succeed in life.

She says Youth Parliament offers “exciting possibilities for our young people” but that it will also be of benefit to their peers as having someone they can relate to in Parliament will “make the House feel like a place where the voice of young people is heard”.

Barbara Kuriger, now in her third term as the MP for Taranaki-King Country, has had two Youth MPs previously (Leah Bell in 2016 and Xavier Turner in 2019) and says that the Youth Parliament is “important because it gives secondary school students the opportunity to learn more about Parliament and politics”. Like Angela, Barbara is looking for someone who is passionate and will bring something unique to the House – she says that this triennial event gives young people the opportunity to “play the role of an MP, taking part in the House, Select Committees and other Parliamentary activities” and as a result “learn about democracy, how government works and have their voices heard” at a national level.

Angela Roberts says the political leanings – if any – of candidates is not important. Neither is whether or not they have political experience.

Ultimately it is having a diversity of voices that provides better debate on the big issues facing our country and “when you get good debate you get much better outcomes,” Angela Roberts said.

For more information go to Applications close on November 12.

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