Te Puke High School student Maia Rahurahu is about to swap her desk and books for select committees and the debating chamber.

Maia has been selected as a Youth MP representing the Rotorua electorate of MP Todd McClay, who chose Maia after a strong recommendation from the school.

''I approached them and said we are looking for a Youth MP, told them the type of young person we needed was someone who was very active and engaged, not only with the school, but in the wider community,'' says Todd.

''They came up with a few names and we had a telephone interview. I thought that Maia was an excellent choice and was very pleased that she has taken it on.''


Youth Parliament is held once every parliamentary term, providing young people with the opportunity to learn and share information about New Zealand's democracy. Youth MPs are selected by current MPs to represent them and take the role of a Member of Parliament as much as possible. There is also a Youth Press Gallery.

''I think it's a great thing to do for a young person, but it's courageous also, because you are pitching yourself into the unknown down there in Wellington,'' says Todd.

''But I have no doubt at all she'll represents not only Te Puke High School but the wider Bay of Plenty area particularly well.''

Maia says she hadn't heard of the Youth Parliament until her science teacher told her he had recommended her for the role of Youth MP.

''I had a think about it and I came back and he told me that I had it,'' she says.

''I'm always open to try new things and it was something I'd never done so I decided to give it a go.''

Maia says she likes to talk politics with her grandparents.

''My koro like talking about it a lot, so we always had conversations [about politics].''


She has no particular issues she wants to raise, and is going into the experience with an open mind.

The 2019 Youth Parliament initiative has been extended to a six month programme, but will still include two days in at parliament in July.

''Maia has been across to Rotorua and there will be more opportunities to do that,'' says Todd.

''One of the things we are quite keen to do between now and July is to meet with other groups of students around the electorate, talk to them a little bit about some of the issues that are important to them that they think should be spoken about more in Parliament, so we can get a wider input into what's going on.

''So it's an opportunity to step into the shoes of an MP, but also to see what's happening through the eyes of younger people.''

Maia has already been in contact with other Youth MPs. While she is still unsure about her future career, she says politics might be an option.

Maia has represented the school at volleyball and also helped in getting support and sponsorship for the school's CACTUS programme by talking to prospective supporters about her experiences on the programme last year.

Youth MPs submit potential topics to be discussed at Youth Parliament, deliver projects, engage with MPs and connect with their peers during the two-day Youth Parliament event

They will take part in select committees where there are 10 topics: economic development, science and innovation, education and workforce, environment, health,
foreign affairs, defence and trade, justice, Māori affairs, primary production, social service and community, and transport and infrastructure.