Whanganui's Taylor Renata Nikora has no political aspirations, yet found himself sitting in Te Tai Hauāuru MP Adrian Rurawhe's seat in Parliament.

Nikora, 20, was Rurawhe's representative at last week's Youth Parliament.

"Everything I do tends to be community and taking it back to my school," Nikora said.

"I'm not a political person at all."

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The former Te Kura o Kokohuia student is studying bicultural social services at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa but is planning to change to a career teaching te reo Māori.

His Youth Parliament experience came about after Te Wānanga o Aotearoa students were hosted by Labour Māori MPs at Parliament last year.

"When we introduced ourselves and our whakapapa, I did my part all in te reo Māori. We got to ask them a question and when it was my turn I asked about the waiting list for transgender people to get surgery. It's crazy – I couldn't even get on the list.

"After that, Adrian rang and asked me if I wanted to be his Youth Member of Parliament. He picked me because of my reo Māori and how connected I am with my community and my school."

The Youth MPs met with MPs from all parties at the start of the Youth Parliament.

"I felt way out of place and didn't feel I was the right person to be there," Nikora said.

"The other people were all really political. But then I was in the Māori Affairs Committee and the things we were talking about, I didn't need to know politics. You didn't need to be watching Parliament TV for your whole life – those [Youth MPs] had been preparing themselves for a long time."

The Māori Youth MPs also had a session with the Labour Māori caucus.

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"The others were asking political questions. I was more interested in what they were doing, when they saw their families, what happens if they have a tangi to go to. It seemed like a big struggle for them family-wise. I wouldn't want to do that."

The Youth Māori Affairs Committee focused on the Māori Land Wars.

"That's not taught in schools. We learn about World War I and World War II – and that's important – but we also need to acknowledge our local history. We pushed for it to be taught in schools and a day of remembrance for all people involved.

"We also wanted historic landmark signs at places where battles took place."

Taylor Renata Nikora chose te reo Māori as the subject of his speech to the Youth Parliament.
Taylor Renata Nikora chose te reo Māori as the subject of his speech to the Youth Parliament.

Nikora is passionate about te reo Māori and that was the subject of his three-minute Youth Parliament speech.

"Only 3.7 per cent of people in this country can speak Māori. People should be putting more effort into learning and revitalising and keeping our language alive because if we don't do it, no one else will.

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"I've had lots of responses on social media from people I don't even know. A lot of people share the same beliefs in keeping our reo alive, especially for the next generation."

Despite his lack of political aspirations, Nikora said the Youth Parliament experience was worthwhile.

"I wasn't there to get an eye on my seat which some of them were. For me, it was how does government work and the sacrifice our politicians make for the love of their people. Now I've had the chance to sit in their seat and wear their shoes, I don't know how they do it. I now have respect for politicians, especially our Māori ones and the things they sacrifice.

"I'd recommend the Youth Parliament to other young people. It's an amazing experience, even if you aren't interested in politics."