This week is Youth Parliament, where young people (16 to 18) selected by MPs experience two days of parliamentary life.
My Youth MP this year is Peniata Junior Endemann, who hit the news about a year ago, along with his mum, Emma Endemann, with their stories about why a Living Wage matters.
At 16 Peniata was already working 25 hours a week on $13.85 an hour to help keep his siblings in school and help provide the basic necessities for his family.
Peniata is studying at Edgewater College. He’s into economics, sports, family, church and a bit of politics. While he will do well at school, he has to think about his next steps : how he continues to support his family, and that probably means getting a job, not going to University.
At 18, he’s still working after school as a cleaner. So are his mum and sister. All are paid near minimum wage. All work for a contractor that changed hands recently, and both have been affected by breaches of Part 6A of the Employment Relations Act, which the government wants to water down.
Peniata will be speaking in the legislative debate today on the Mock Bill, which proposes to reduce the voting age from 18 to 16, among other things. Unfortunately, youth parliament won’t be televised, but I will post his speech when I am able. Peniata could tell us all a thing or two about how the decisions of parliamentarians affect he and his family.
I’m proud he’s going to have the chance.
Time to listen up.