Jaimee Thomas, Youth MP for Kevin Hague

My experience as a Youth MP representing Kevin Hague of the New Zealand Green Party was very unique, and in short, couldn’t have been any better. 

The six-month tenure leading up the recent event in Wellington was hard work, requiring hours of commitment to the program, myself and my community. During my tenure I underwent 2 projects, both based in Christchurch.

The first was speaking to the Senior Division at my school, Burnside High School, about the importance of enrolling, and then voting in our elections. I managed to gain a lot of support not only from my school but also from the electoral commission leading up to this, which was proven very helpful when ambushing 500 Year 13 students with enrolment forms. All in all, this was very successful with something like a 60% hand in rate on the day, and the majority of the remaining taking theirs home to discuss with their whānau.

My second came about after spending a day in Christchurch being Kevin’s shadow. For the most part, attending the meetings with concerned scientists, environmentalists and doctors was very daunting, scary and rewarding. However, for one of these meetings we ended up at 298 Youth Health Center, and after discussions with the fabulous Dr Sue Bagshaw, I committed myself to giving the free, charitable clinic an opening ceremony to remember. The event happened at the end of May and was a success in the way that we had the opportunity to give back to the wonderful organisation, while celebrating local youth talent and eating sausages.

Following my work in the community, as well as attending youth award ceremonies and spending another day with Kevin in Wellington, the event was fast approaching. Personally, I had no idea what I was initially expecting, but I can tell you that Youth Parliament definitely wasn’t it. After spending the Monday in Green Office discussing what and how we were going to change the world, campaigning and so much more I was ready for whatever was going to happen in the two days that followed. I was feeling confident in myself and my colleagues as we endeavoured to meet, socialise and debate with opposing governments.

The whole time in Wellington, for me, was faultless. I was put outside of my comfort zone on many different occasions, whether it was questioning Nikki Kaye on Christchurch’s mental health services and poverty, or debating my view on the decriminalisation of recreational drugs (a discussion for another time) during select committees. I made many lifelong friends from all political parties. My stomach was kept full to the brim. I was met with professionalism and a lack of negativity that normally come from a youth trying to enter politics, but most of all I have discovered a passion.

As someone that had a plan for her years following high school, and had already applied for University, Scholarships and a student loan, I am deeply honoured to say that I no longer have a plan. Discovering a passion and willingness to change the world one step at a time at Youth Parliament has quite frankly shattered my plan in to a million pieces, and that is the best feeling in the world.