Too young to vote but up with the play

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014
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ROBERT CHARLES/FAIRFAX NZ
Andrew Little with Penny Gaylor and event host Michael Riley.

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Despite most being too young to vote, a group of young people were not afraid to ask Labour politicians Andrew Little and Penny Gaylor the hard questions yesterday.

About 10 people turned up to the meet and greet where topics such as cyber bullying, housing, poverty, job creation and the environment were discussed.

Of those who were there, only three raised their hands when Little asked who would be voting come election time.

Youth in Politics founder Michael Riley, 16, hosted the event and said it was about giving future voters the chance to meet their local politicians.

"What's it's all about is allowing young people to meet with these candidates," he said. "We are the future of New Zealand and they could be in the future government, so it's important to find out what they will do for us."

Further meetings with National and Internet Party candidates were planned, he said. Riley was most interested in the issue of cyber bullying and what Labour would be doing to remedy it.

"It's a good question that's difficult to answer," Little said.

Social media sites such as Facebook were largely unregulated which made policing cyber bullying hard, he said.

More education around the matter in schools and laws that recognised the form of harassment were needed. "It's about respecting one another, you don't have to get vindictive and violent." However, politicians weren't always the best examples, he said.

Gaylor, the Taranaki-King Country candidate, said she was surprised the Ministry of Education didn't have a cyber bullying programme.

"There should be one that goes into all schools," she said.

Although the majority of those in attendance wouldn't be voting this year, Little said he was impressed with their political enthusiasm.

Little and Gaylor urged those who could vote to educate themselves and encourage others to do the same.

"If you can get them to vote, they start a pattern of voting and often their family will vote too," Gaylor said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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