Youth Parliament 2013

By Jacobi Kohu-Morris | Posted: Sunday November 17, 2013

In April 2013, I was privileged enough to be appointed as the Youth Member of Parliament representing the Rt. Hon Winston Peters for a six-month tenure. As much of an honour as it was, I will never forget the disgust so evident in Mr Tobin and Mr Enrights (both staunch Labourites) eyes when they learnt I was representing Winston, and that he had chosen me. It would seem they are the only members of Grey Power who dont like dear Winston!

As an aspiring MP it was naturally an absolute dream to sit in the great green chairs of power with fellow counterparts and at least pretend we were in charge of the country!

I had many roles to undertake in Parliament. After interrogating Minister Steven Joyce about the Sky-City Convention Centre deal and grilling Minister Nikki Kaye about youth wages, they gave their typically flimsy avoid-the-question type answers. Pretty annoying actually! But I was also elected as the Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee which looked at where New Zealand’s international obligations should lie – whether they should be in the Pacific or wider-afield. Naturally the whole experience was absolutely fascinating.

But apart from all of the duties I had to complete, I met some amazing people. My overall highlight was meeting youths from Open Doors, an amazing subsidiary organization of the IHC which aims to help people with disabilities. Above all, I wanted their voices heard – because it is a sad reality that their disenfranchisement is all too evident. I heard many different opinions across the city and the country about political issues, which were all fascinating and important in their own right. As a young person, I felt like I went to Parliament representing all of our people – a duty which the real Parliament is meant to do – although the completion of that duty some may find debatable.

But the whole tenure has been great fun. Many reading this article may find politics an absolute bore; a necessary evil – but I enjoy all of it immensely. But now that the tenure is almost finished and the title of “Youth MP” becomes redundant, my political involvement in the community will not cease, because young people will always have a voice and it is their right to have it heard. Plus,  I was persuaded to join the Labour Party. Shhh – don’t tell Winston, but at least Mr Tobin and Mr Enright will be pleased.