Youth MPs start two-day parliament take-over

By Talisa Kupenga

Te Reo and tikanga Māori, immigration and climate change were among issues raised in Parliament Tuesday by 120 young people.  Youth Parliament 2019 is underway where the next generation of our country's Politicians get insight into running the country.

Day one of youth parliament saw Te Mana Tiakiwai (Ngai Tūhoe) have lunch with the Prime Minister on her ninth floor office and open parliament with a karakia. He`s one of more than 30 Māori Youth MPs taking part in a two-day takeover of parliament.

Youth Minister Peeni Henare says "Parliament's vibe has really changed since they’ve arrived and it's great to see our youth here."

Tiakiwai is Minister Henare's youth representative and is passionate about Te Ao māori.

 "I'm passionate about Māori affairs, anything about māori just to bring back our culture," he says.

He joins Pounamu Wharehinga who's working with Green's Co-Leader Marama Davidson.

Wharehinga says "some key issues for youth include looking after the environment. I am passionate about Māori history and the Treaty of Waitangi."

Youth parliament happens once every three years and is a chance for youth to grill MPs and hit them with the hard questions.

Education Minister Chris Hipkin’s youth MP Christian Dennison, brother of Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s actor Julian Dennison, took his opportunity at question time.

“For the Minister for Immigration how is he teaching new NZ citizens Māori customs and values?”

Other youth asked about transport, compulsory Te Reo in schools and climate change.

Wharehinga says "at the end of this experience it's about walking the talk. That's what's important to me and that's what I want to do, to go back to my community and do that."

Tiakiwai says "I'm just pushing to be a great role model for the students of my school and the community of Onehunga and Māngere."

Tomorrow Youth take to the debating chamber before the programme ends.