Hearing the voice of young people is crucial to Aotearoa’s future and Ta’a Ramsay is making sure that voice is heard loud and clear.
The 16-year-old New Zealand born Samoan has been selected to take part in the 2019 Youth Parliament – a six month programme involving 120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members, who will attend the two-day Youth Parliament event July 16 and 17 July, in Wellington.
Starting in March and ending in August, the programme, held every three years, provides an opportunity for young people from around Aotearoa New Zealand to actively work and be heard on topics and issues they are passionate about.
Ta’a, who grew up in Papatoetoe and attends James Cook High School, is already on the Manurewa Youth Council, which is where he first heard about Youth Parliament.
“Youth parliament was an opportunity that was introduced to me through the Manurewa Youth Council, and it was a chance to voice not only my opinion, but the opinions of young people in Manurewa,” Ta’a explains.
Ta’a applied for the programme, and says to his surprise, was selected by Manurewa Member of Parliament (MP) Louisa Wall as a Youth MP to take part in the initiative.
“I believe it is crucial for youth to be involved in the political running of New Zealand because the decisions made right now will affect our young people in the future,” he says.
It is particularly important for Pacific youth to be heard, as they make up a large percentage of the New Zealand’s youth population, he adds.
As part of the initiative, Youth MPs are asked to submit potential topics to be discussed at Youth Parliament, deliver projects, engage with the MP who selected them, connect with their peers to understand their views on topics to be discussed at the two-day Youth Parliament event, and access other opportunities.
Ta’a is planning several events currently, including the Manurewa Youth Conference, which is an opportunity for young people living in Manurewa to come together and discuss the issues they face, he says.
During March, Ta’a attended ASB Polyfest, where he volunteered for South Seas Healthcare, conducting a survey for youths about the issues they face in Aotearoa.
“I am trying to help the Pacific community by making sure our young people have a voice and have everything they need, to not only prosper but to thrive,” he says.
At the Youth Parliament event in July 2019, Youth MPs will learn about parliamentary and government decision-making processes through participating in general and mock legislative debates, sitting on Youth Parliament select committees, and asking parliamentary questions of Ministers.
In May, all Youth MPs will undergo further training to understand their role and support them to prepare for the two-day Youth Parliament event in Wellington.
While Ta’a is focused on the next few months, he says looking ahead, he dreams of working with young people and helping them politically.
“I aspire to be an advocate for Pacific young people.”