A group of Tauranga young guns have given the leaders of New Zealand a run for their money at this year's Youth Parliament.

Tauranga secondary school students Jake Hoffart, Grahame Woods, Hugo Thompson and Rotorua student Ngahaki Gardiner were selected last year to represent the region as Youth MPs this week along with 121 others throughout the country. Aquinas College student Jamie Regan, 16, and Mount Maunganui College recent graduate Alexander Goldsmith, 18, were two of 17 students who acted as youth press gallery.

The Youth MPs and youth press gallery members took part in mock debates, caucus sessions and select committees.

''The whole thing is pretty much run exactly as normal Parliament for a couple of days,'' Jamie said.


''As part of the press gallery, we had workshops with journalists from the Herald and radio, we've walked around and talked to all sorts of people and gained information about what they do.''

Jamie said being able to take part in the Youth Parliament was a great insight into politics and helped reaffirm his career aspirations.

''It has been a huge benefit for me personally.''

Jamie interviewed several youth MPs, just as his adult peers did regularly.

''There have been a couple of surprises. It's not as full on and past-paced as I thought it would be,'' Jamie said.

The aspiring journalist said while he had enjoyed the experience, he was keeping an open mind about politics in the future.

''I'm not sure about politics. Reporting at Parliament was interesting, I found it more interesting than I thought I would. In terms of journalism, it's definitely inspired me to think about it more.''

Minister for Youth Nikki Kaye said Youth Parliament was about ensuring young New Zealanders understood politics and the democratic process and also to inspire the next generation of politicians and political journalists.

What is the press gallery?

The New Zealand press gallery was established in approximately 1870, when a reporter was given a pass to cover a session of Parliament. Women were only allowed to join the press gallery in 1965, but had been reporting from the ladies' gallery from the 1880s. There are currently more than 100 members of the press gallery.
Source: www.parliament.nz