Nevada Lee-Mariu is president of New Zealand Young Labour
I joined the New Zealand Labour Party because they have always stood up for the little guy. My family always taught me to make sure that I looked out for those around me.
I was born in South Auckland to a single, teenage, mum. Growing up I saw what it was like for people to go without and that has impacted heavily on my values now.
We cannot move forward as a nation unless we are prepared to create a society where we can all move forward together.
I joined the Labour Party because they believe that no matter where you come from, who your family is, or who you are, you should be offered the same opportunities as everyone else. That is why I am incredibly proud of the work Labour has done over its 100 years in New Zealand.
Student debt has hit $15 billion this year. Debt is crippling and drastically impacts every decision we make. It determines whether we can travel, the jobs we get, if we can buy a house and when we can afford to start a family. There are entire generations in New Zealand growing up with the burden of this debt on their shoulders.
I will never be able to afford to own a home. Most of my friends will never be able to afford to own a home. It has become increasingly hard for people to buy their own homes, because they are competing against existing property owners who have large untaxed capital gains and mortgage taking ability behind them. There is a housing crisis in New Zealand and something needs to be done about it.
We are stuck in cold, damp, unhealthy houses paying astronomical amounts of rent. The price of living in New Zealand has reached a point where a growing number of New Zealanders cannot afford to live. We have record numbers of people being forced to live on the street. That is simply not good enough.
Labour understands these issues and are not sweeping them under the carpet or hiding them behind a smug smile. They are focusing on the problems that are hurting so many New Zealanders. Too often people are put off by politics.
They think the issues that they care about are not being focused on by politicians. They think politicians are out of touch with the issues that affect them. The current government is not listening to us, and are not taking action on the issues we care about. Today's decisions impact the future of young people.
The Labour Party is introducing smart, innovative plans that are investing in our future. Policies like 3 years free post school education, and rental WOFs are truly life changing policies. Labour is paying attention to the problems New Zealanders are facing today.
I hope that one day every New Zealander has a warm, dry and healthy home to go to. That no one in New Zealand will have to live on the street, or live in poverty. I hope that everyone is given the same opportunities to succeed.