Rotorua teen speaks at Youth Parliament

By Aquinas College student, Jamie Regan

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Rotorua teen Ngahaki Gardiner made a big impact with his rousing speech during the 2016 Youth Parliament.   Photo/Supplied
Rotorua teen Ngahaki Gardiner made a big impact with his rousing speech during the 2016 Youth Parliament. Photo/Supplied

Rotorua teen Ngahaki Gardiner has made a big impact with a rousing speech during the 2016 Youth Parliament.

Ngahaki, 17, was speaking in favour of passing a mock bill intending to improve the accessibility of digital technologies to those with disabilities.

During his speech, Ngahaki described the injustice that surrounds accessibility to technology for those New Zealanders with disabilities.

"Under the current law, those with disabilities do not have the same ease of access (to some apps and websites) that all of us have. It's not easy for them," Ngahaki said in his speech to the house.

"The only question I would ask is, is this bill right? Yes, it is. It must be passed. We must all stand as one."

The end of the speech was greeted with much applause and appreciation from the house, showing the overwhelming support for the passing of the bill by Youth Parliament.

Ngahaki spoke of the importance of equality during his speech, and how this mock bill was a perfect way to give a voice to those with disabilities in New Zealand.

He also pointed out the importance of technology to everyone, and how the government was not doing enough to address the struggles of being disabled and dealing with technology.

"The bill meant a lot. I wanted to go straight to the crux of the issue for me, and that is, is it right or wrong, both ethically and morally," Ngahaki said.

"This is a bill to ensure that disabled New Zealanders have equal access to apps and websites. It's a matter of equality as far as I am concerned.

"In terms of the disabled community, there aren't a lot of people who speak for them. If someone has to stand and speak for them, then I didn't mind being that person."

Ngahaki said although the bill was a mock one, the principle of it was important.

"The debate was definitely the most nerve racking, but when I did my speech and when I thought that people liked it, I felt really good.

"Also hearing the other arguments was good as it allowed me to have an insight into a variety of opinions.

"Whilst I'm still firmly in favour of the bill, it was good to hear arguments of the opposing side."

Ngahaki, who represented Te Ururoa Flavell of the Maori Party, was one of 121 Youth MPs who were chosen for this week's event.

Over the two day programme, Youth MPs debated legislation, held a session of question time and participated in Select Committees.

Although Ngahaki is not considering going into politics at the moment, he would be open to the option.

"If I was to ever get into politics it would have to be for the right reasons.

"I would have to be able to do something for my country or for my people. If I felt that I could really make a difference then sure I would go into politics.

"I would want to make sure I'm making a difference to something."

Ngahaki is currently working as a video editor, and is considering going to university in the next year or two.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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