New Voices: Jacinda Ardern, Chris Hipkins and Jonathan Young

By Claire Trevett

New Labour MP Jacinda Ardern first flexed her political muscle at a tender age - she stood for the Morrinsville College council on a campaign of allowing girls to wear trousers to school. She got the post, and the girls got the trousers.

It was her first taste of the changes that could be made through politics. But her political composition was wrought even earlier - her childhood in the 1980s was spent in Murupara, a poor area close to Rotorua, where her father was the local policeman and the area was hard-hit by the economic reforms.

"My memories of that place are vivid. I knew a lot of people had lost their jobs but I didn't understand it was caused by privatisation of the forestry industry and the complete lack of support from central government. I knew there were suicides and that the girl who babysat my sister and I one day turned yellow from hepatitis and couldn't visit any more.

"But I didn't understand the linkages between all of this and the poverty in the community I was living in. My passion for social justice came from what I saw; my love of politics came when I realised it was the key to changing what I saw."

At 28, Ardern is the first member of Parliament born in the 1980s and the youngest of the current crop. Helen Clark - for whom Ms Ardern worked as an adviser before going overseas in 2005 - was Prime Minister for almost all of Ms Ardern's adulthood.

The changing of the generational guard was not lost on Ms Ardern, who paid tribute to Helen Clark, noting "my generation grew up under your leadership Helen, and many don't know how good they had it".

She calls Morrinsville home - "a place that keeps me grounded".

When she was asked if she was "a radical" because of her post as president of the International Union of Socialist Youth, she would reply: "I am from Morrinsville. Where I come from, a radical is someone who chooses to drive a Toyota over a Ford or Holden."

Instead, she was a "social democrat. I believe what I believe, strongly - human rights, equality, social justice, the importance of community - and I do believe New Zealand has a role to play in promoting and defending these principles abroad."

She spoke of the need for the whole community to be involved in relieving child poverty, for young people to be involved in politics and for te reo to be compulsory in schools.

She developed a respect for the public service in her time in Britain as an adviser in the Cabinet office and Department for Business and Enterprise before working with Sir Ronnie Flanagan on a review of policing.

Her family was also influential in her politics - her grandmother, Gladys, who turned the television off whenever Prime Minister Robert Muldoon came on, her policeman father, who now heads the police in Niue, and her mother "who showed me the world was not black and white or rose-tinted". Ms Ardern also spoke about the meaning of a maiden speech, comparing it to "words spoken in a heated argument. They will come back to haunt you."

She hoped her maiden speech holding "my values and beliefs, the things that brought me here" would haunt her and that "should I ever abandon them, I will have the good grace to leave".

Ms Ardern was elected at 20 on Labour's list after standing as candidate in her home town electorate of Waikato. The safe National seat was won by Lindsay Tisch with a majority of 12,850. She is a member of the justice and electoral, and regulations review select committees. She is Labour's spokesperson for youth affairs and associate in justice.

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* Chris Hipkins - a different dream of prosperity for NZ

Labour, Rimutaka MP
Vital Statistics:

Aged 30, won Rimutaka seat with a majority of 753. Labour's spokesman for internal affairs and associate for energy. On Government administration select committee.

Background:
Adviser to former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Education Ministers Steve Maharey and Trevor Mallard. Policy adviser for the Industry Training Federation before running training and apprenticeship programmes for oil and gas companies. Returned from OE in London to stand for Parliament.

Personal:
Grew up in the Hutt Valley. The 80s economic reforms and stockmarket crash were pivotal in shaping his politics. When new Speaker Lockwood Smith was Education Minister in the 1990s, the then Victoria University student was arrested protesting against National's education policies. His maiden speech cautioned Prime Minister John Key not to forget the lessons of the 1980s or Mr Key's own state house history.

In his own words:
"I, too, am ambitious for New Zealand. But the prosperity I dream of won't be measured by our cars or holiday homes. It will be measured by the strength of our compassion towards one another, our collective efforts to give our kids the best possible start in life, the respect we show our older citizens, the steps we take to help others up the ladder of opportunity."

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* Jonathan Young - After 43 years, some things have changed ...

National MP for New Plymouth
Vital statistics:

50 years old, beat Labour incumbent Harry Duynhoven by 105 votes. Member of law and order and the local government and environment select committees.

Background:
Senior minister of City Church Waitakere (West Auckland) for past 18 years. Formerly national administrator for the Assemblies of God New Zealand. Trained schoolteacher who has worked as an itinerant teacher of Maori language. Extensive work in Cambodia, sponsoring workers and teaching community leaders.

Personal:
Son of Venn Young, National MP for Egmont/Waitotara 1966-1990. Can remember coming to Parliament as a 7-year-old and meeting Prime Minister Keith Holyoake, and seeing the shoeshine stools in the men's toilets (they are still there today) today, and the silver butter knives, bread rolls and fish in Bellamy's.

In his own words:
"New Plymouth was described by E.W. Payton in 1876 as the 'dullest place in the colony ... which all the other great bustling cities had a patronising way of snubbing'. I would suspect if E.W Payton were to visit today, he would see a thriving, creative, expansive, exciting and bustling city. He would write an addendum to his previous statement saying 'even if they were snubbed, they wouldn't notice anyway'."

- NZ Herald

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