He turned up to the Times Botany by-election debate on Friday night, ready to listen, and too young to vote.
Dressed in his Pakuranga College school uniform, year 12 student Te Haua Taua was seated in the crowd with high expectations for what the night would bring.
The 15-year-old student, who heard about the debate on Facebook, said he’s “interested in that kind of stuff”.
Despite being too young to vote, and not living in the Botany electorate the Highland Park resident wanted to meet the candidates in person.
“It’s about trying to get that connection,” he said.
“Before the debate, I only really knew one of them. I didn’t know the others.”
He thinks the candidates could have done a better job on the night, too.
“It was interesting to meet them,” he said, “but I thought they could have sold themselves better…especially in their introductions.”
Te Haua has attended Pakuranga College since year 10 after moving from Waiheke High School, and wasted no time getting involved in co-curricular activities when he arrived – particularly in Maori leadership development, sports, and helping out with the school debating team.
He believes engagement is the key to improving youth involvement and interest in local politics, and said the local board has an important role to play in that process.
“Our school in particular has a lot of potential but students need to get a boost…when I first got here, I didn’t know anyone, but it was the boost that got me involved.
“The local board also has a lot of potential – in the way they can reach out to students around the area, and it’s something they should be doing more of.”
By: Laura Brookes