Mangere Youth MP has got your back
(Picture caption: L-R, Youth MPs Ala Vaiala, Vaiola Tautī, and Christopher Tenisio - pictured here with New Zealand Prime Minister the Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, and MP for Mangere, Hon Aupito William Sio - are excited about taking part in this year's Youth Parliament 2019.)
On hearing about Youth Parliament for the very first time, New Zealand-born Tongan Ala Vaiala knew it was her calling to be the voice for her peers in Mangere.
Based in Mangere, Ala, 17, is currently in Year 13 at Mount Roskill Grammar School, which is where she first learned of Youth Parliament at an event attended by Member for Parliament (MP) for Mt Roskill Michael Wood.
“He brought up Youth Parliament and from there, I knew that it was my calling to be this voice for my fellow youth peers in Mangere, and for them to know that someone’s got their back,” Ala says.
Every three years, Members of Parliament throughout New Zealand selects a Youth MP from their community at Youth Parliament.
The 2019 programme started in March and will conclude on August 31 with 120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members attending the two-day Youth Parliament event in Wellington on July 16 and 17 July 2019.
This six-month programme provides a chance for young people from around Aotearoa to actively work and be heard on topics and issues they are passionate about.
Ala says Youth Parliament presented an opportunity to give back to her much loved community and to be a voice for the youth in Mangere which is why she applied for the programme and was successfully selected by Mangere MP, Hon. Aupito William Sio.
“Growing up in Mangere, I’ve never really noticed a positive youth presence within my community.
“I want to start that positive youth presence within my community and create a strong foundation for Mangere in the future.”
Ala’s interest in politics and current affairs started at a young age, she says.
“I guess it’s because of how I was raised by my grandparents - as soon as it was 6pm, it was time to watch the news.
“They were also big Tongan newspaper readers and I remember reading it when I was bored, and that exposure triggered my curiosity.”
Inspired by her role model, Hon. Jenny Salesa, the ambitious teen says she cannot wait to reach out to Mangere’s youth and show them she really cares about what they have to say, with the solid support and guidance of Minister Sio.
On April 26, Ala will host the Have Your Say Mangere Youth Fono at Mangere Law Centre from 4-7pm, where youth from Mangere can voice their opinion on issues or matters within the community.
Climate change is an area Ala is particularly passionate about, and she aims to spread awareness of this among Pacific.
With a rapidly growing Pacific youth population in New Zealand it is essential for this group to have a voice as decisions and policies made will affect our lives in the future, Ala says.
“There are a lot of ways in which youth can voice their views and a big one is by voting.
“After all, there’s no point in complaining and doing nothing - change will never occur without passion and action.”
Public submissions are open!
The public submission process for Youth Parliament 2019 select committee hearings is now open until April 28.
Young people (aged 12-24 years) are encouraged to submit their views on the topics selected for discussion at the 2019 Youth Parliament.
Visit HERE to view the topics for discussion, and to submit your views.