White sur­vives bat­tle in ‘the bear pit’

Auckland City Harbour News - - OUT & ABOUT - ALAS­TAIR LYNN

Very few can say they were tossed into ‘‘the bear pit’’ and came out the other side un­scathed.

Fend­ing off ver­bal at­tacks, keep­ing a cool head and stand­ing up for your be­liefs are all part of the game in the de­bat­ing cham­ber of New Zealand’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Gen­nevieve White has just re­turned from rep­re­sent­ing Mt Al­bert at Youth Par­lia­ment 2016.

It may not have been the real deal but the Marist Col­lege deputy head pre­fect says some heated de­bates broke out.

‘‘There were a few [youth MPs] that were a bit strong minded, they just re­ally got into char­ac­ter,’’ she says.

This year 121 young New Zealan­ders were ap­pointed as Youth MPs, with 17 oth­ers act­ing as Youth Press Gallery mem­bers for the two-day ses­sion.

Stu­dents took part in mock de­bates, cau­cus ses­sions and se­lect com­mit­tees, while the Youth Press Gallery re­ported on all the ac­tiv­i­ties.

At the end of the ses­sion stu­dents had the op­por­tu­nity to quiz MPs about their jobs.

‘‘I never re­alised how hard it was,’’ White says.

‘‘They’re def­i­nitely jug­gling their work life and fam­ily life. It’s like a 24/7 job.

‘‘It was just cool see­ing how much of in­flu­ence and im­pact MPs have on what hap­pens in New Zealand

Dur­ing the par­lia­men­tary de­bate in Welling­ton, White made a speech about the im­por­tance of ad­dress­ing child­hood obesity in New Zealand.

‘‘There’s a real lack of healthy food at the school tuck shop, at su­per­mar­kets,’’ she says.

‘‘Stu­dents be­fore and af­ter school are load­ing up with it. It’s some­thing that should be ac­knowl­edged.’’

Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer pre­pared his young pro­tege as best he could for the ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘The dy­namic that goes on in there is often very dif­fer­ent to what you see on TV,’’ he says.

White says more youth need to be en­cour­aged get in­volved in New Zealand pol­i­tics.

‘‘So many young peo­ple in new Zealand have no idea about what ac­tu­ally hap­pens in the Govern­ment.

‘‘I would re­ally en­cour­age youth to en­rol be­cause they can re­ally make a dif­fer­ence. But I think education needs to go in be­fore they cast a vote.’’

PHOTO: ALAS­TAIR LYNN

Youth Par­lia­ment Mt Al­bert MP Gen­nevieve White could get used to the perks of the of­fice.

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