Simeon Brown was just 17 when he set his sights on parliament.
It was 2008 and after watching in admiration as his grandfather sat on the Eketahuna Borough Council for years, he joined the National party, determined that he too would make a difference.
He may not have been able to vote at the time of the 2008 general elections, but he did learn what it takes to be a voice for those who need it, he says.
“I couldn’t vote but I tried to make sure that everyone at my high school who could vote did vote. I wasn’t what you would call a disengaged youth,” he smiles.
“I am and always have been driven by my belief that this country can be better and politics is a way to make positive change.”
The 26-year-old brushes off criticism that he is too young to stand for the Pakuranga electorate.
“I’m only going to get older, and I’m only going to get wiser,” he says. “But I put myself out there on my experience and my determination to work hard for this electorate, be a strong voice and make sure that Pakuranga is well represented in parliament.”
He says that if anything, being younger allows him to bring greater energy to the role and better reach the youth of New Zealand.
“I’ve recently graduated from university, I’ve got a student loan, and we’ve recently bought our first home. I understand the challenges facing young people and young families. So I think that helps me better relate to those issues, and to be able to encourage young people to get involved.”
He says he’s determined to speak to as many people as possible, especially those who feel their vote won’t make a difference.
“It’s a matter of really making sure that they realise that their vote is their voice,” he says.
He says representing all members of the Pakuranga electorate is not a responsibility he takes lightly.
“For me being a local member of parliament is about serving the community and being available and accessible, I want to demonstrate that through my campaigning but it’s also about going forward, if elected that’s how I intend to work.”
Brown has knocked on more than 3000 doors so far, sometimes accompanied by his wife Rebecca.
“Door knocking puts me at people’s front doors where they are the most comfortable and I am the least comfortable,” he laughs.
“It’s also about listening to what’s important to them. If I’m elected I want to be someone who is known for listening to the community and making sure we take people’s concerns to Wellington.”
While the Pakuranga electorate seat has remained safely in the hands of National’s Maurice Williamson since 1987, he says he’s not taking a single vote for granted.
“You can’t take people’s support for granted. It needs to be earned and it needs to be something you continue to work for,” he says.
“This campaign is designed to demonstrate the National party is active and we want this vote not because we deserve it but because we’re working for it.”