local: Most New Zealand politicians (at least in public)
development through youth participation: "Youth participation
isn't difficult ...
postive, healthy lives: The Youth Development Strategy
guiding the Ministry ...
out the local action: Youth councils are one way...
means partnership: Participation depends on citizens wanting
to participate - and ...
for Citizenship Education - empowering citizens: The Ladder
of Citizenship Participation ...
the aspirations of Pacific peoples: The Ministry of Pacific
Island Affairs exists to ...
migrants up to succeed: Experienced senior New Zealand government
officials look forward to the day ...
defines citizenship: National Party leader Bill English says
"we have come up with the notion ...
Celebrating positive, healthy
The Youth Development Strategy
guiding the Ministry of Youth Affairs calls for enhanced participation
by young people.
Darren Hughes, a 1997 Youth Parliamentarian and currently Labour
Member of Parliament for Otaki, says that participation needs to be across
the board, not token. He believes we need to include young people in all
levels of decision making, rather than saying, "we need a youth rep
for this ..."
Young people, he points out, are affected by everything that happens to
them and to New Zealand, just as much as other population groupings in
the great patchwork quilt of our society – senior citizens, Māori,
Pacific peoples, people with disabilities, women – and others.
“ Raising the level of participation by young people so that they
are another voice at the table, in their own right, is really important,”
" That is why the Ministry of Youth Affairs has produced documents
that ask: How do you include young people? How do you get youth involvement
in some of these projects?" This really confronts organisations,
Darren suggests. "Then they say, 'this is where we are light, we
are not actually including young people'.”
Blankets, not mops
The young MP says the Youth
Development Strategy provides a “positive blanket over young people,
rather than a mop for problems”.
He suggests that government is quite good at is responding to the problems
faced by young people. Solutions are being implemented to the problems
of truancy, bullying, drug abuse and sexual health. And this is as it
should be: there is nothing worse than having a “hear no evil, see
no evil, speak no evil” approach to issues with young people. "You
have to be right up there in the community, addressing it at the coalface,"
But the Youth Development Strategy is different. It is coming from the
other end. It says young people are leading very positive, healthy lives.
"Even those young people who do have problems in different areas
– their lives, looked at as a totality, are very positive,"
At the New Zealand Youth Parliament
2000 (pictured above) young people learnt about the functioning of Parliament
as a centrepiece of New Zealand democracy, and also represented their
fellows in challenging the Wellington establishment to rethink youth issues.
The fourth Youth Parliament, late in 2004, is a show piece at the 150th
anniversary of the formation of the New Zealand Parliament. Youth press
gallery press gallery members are also being selected.