White survives battle in ‘the bear pit’
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.’’
Youth Parliament Mt Albert MP Gennevieve White could get used to the perks of the office.