Ministers challenged to create Youth engagement strategies in portfolios

By Talisa Kupenga

With Youth Parliament underway, Youth MPs will soon take to the beehive to learn first-hand about democracy and influence decision making. But do everyday youth think the government does enough to engage them in the political space?

Te Aorewa Rolleston (Ngai Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui)  says, "I feel like government is approachable to those that are really passionate about politics but I think in order to make positive change you need to look at how others who may not be involved in politics can be involved and make that more easier."

Te Mahara Swanson Hall (Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Awa) says more could be done and new ways to participate were needed.

"I definitely see a lot of my peers who are confident in their opinions and wanting to actively create that change and it's whether those doors are open and whether those people are willing to receive that change."

Te Ao Māori News asked Ministers if they have a youth engagement strategy in place in their portfolios.

Energy Minister Megan Woods says, "Not explicitly in my portfolio but I do talk to a number of youth."

Police Minister Stuart Nash says "If [youth] want to get involved in terms of the legislation then we have the select committee process."

Broadcast and Communications Minister Kris Faafoi says "I wouldn't say there is necessarily a youth strategy but we try to make sure everyone is looked after."

When asked if he would look to implement a youth strategy Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor responded: "If a school asks for me to meet them it's my highest priority."

The 2019 Youth Parliament started March 1 and runs for six months. It occurs every three years.

Youth Minister Peeni Henare says he has been discussing possibilities for what more could be done.

"I asked the Minister [of Finance] 'what are you doing to engage youth about finance', he said 'nothing'. So my challenge to my colleagues is to create their own strategies."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, "While different portfolios will be more or less relevant to youth, I would have an expectation that all Ministers are engaging with young people where appropriate and making sure we are hearing their views and keeping them involved."

Youth MPs arrive for their two-day in-house stint at parliament in July.