One hundred young Pasifika people have presented an Act outlining legislation they believe will enhance Pacific Peoples development, in a strong push to be heard in election year.
The Act, titled Pacific Youth Parliament (Our Movement) Act 2017 is the result of a Pacific Youth Parliament (PYP) held in Christchurch on 20-24 April, the only youth Parliament simulation in New Zealand where the legislative process is replicated by young people for the purpose of developing their own Bill.
The Act addresses a number of election year issues, and represents the cohesive voice of the youth MPs who took part in PYP.
In the area of Education, the PYP Act states that “we must address the mental wellbeing of young people now” and says New Zealand schools should include a compulsory mental health education component in the curriculum including techniques for working through mental health issues.
The Act also advocates for greater understanding of the history of Pasifika peoples in Aotearoa by education providers and workplaces in order to combat prejudice and misrepresentation.
“Many New Zealanders are still unaware of our Pasifika history which includes the dawn raids, and the arrangements we have with Realm nations such as Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau,” the Bill states.
In addition to advocating for an increase to scholarships aimed at increasing opportunities for Pacific Peoples, the Act also recommends the introduction of a national mentoring programme for Pacific young people.
Josiah Tualamali’i, the Chair of PYLAT Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council Trust, which organised PYP says he has been encouraged by the response of MPs to the Youth Parliament – including letters of congratulations from Prime Minister Bill English and Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little, but would like MPs to better engage with Pacific young people.
“I ask that decision makers remember the significance of this Act and write to the PYP MPs with how they will consider and implement the policy recommendations made.”
He says the Parliament and creation of the Act has demystified the political process for the young people involved, and believes it has also created future leaders and decision makers. Mr Tualamali’i took part in the first Pacific Youth Parliament in 2010 as a 14-year-old, and has since been recognised for his growing list of achievements, last year winning the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award for Leadership and Inspiration.
“The participants have challenged the Police 10/7 perception of what Pacific young people do, and can do. They are showing our country that Pasifika young people not only have something to offer Aotearoa which is unique, but can also provide critical new solutions which can change our country for the benefit of all,” he says
Pacific Youth Parliament (PYP) ran on the 20 April for four days and three nights. The participants of PYP (or MPs) spent two days listening to debates, presentations, and speeches on a number of different issues affecting Aotearoa New Zealand and Pacific people.
Afterward the MPs were split in two parties, the PYP Government and PYP Op-position. They were required to argue from a certain viewpoint regardless of their own personal views in an attempt to get them thinking outside the box and creatively. After three days of preparing and debating, both the PYP Government and PYP Opposition created multiple cross-party working groups to cover every issue discussed.
Thoughts and opinions were gathered via discussion groups, and use of online software to get data indicating PYP’s mood and feeling on the issues presented. The Pacific Youth Parliament (Our Movement) Bill 2017 is the result of the PYP sitting and attempts to accurately represent the diverse range of thoughts and opinions of the PYP MPs.