Invercargill candidates discuss policies with Southland Girls' High School students

Ria Bond, Liz Craig, and Rochelle Surendran with Year 13 pupils at Southland Girls High School.
Robyn Edie/STUFF

Ria Bond, Liz Craig, and Rochelle Surendran with Year 13 pupils at Southland Girls High School.

Invercargill's parliamentary hopefuls went back to school on Thursday, to put their policies before a new generation of voters. 

At Southland Girls' High School, about 70 year 13 students attended a meeting with three of the candidates for the Invercargill electorate. 

Many of those in attendance were getting ready to vote for the first time. 

Ria Bond, Rochelle Surendran, and Liz Craig met with Southland Girls High School students before the election.
Robyn Edie/Stuff

Ria Bond, Rochelle Surendran, and Liz Craig met with Southland Girls High School students before the election.

For almost an hour, Dr Liz Craig (Labour), Ria Bond (NZ First), and Rochelle Surendran (Green Party) spoke on their party's policies and took questions from students. 

National candidate and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie was unable to attend but had a message read on her behalf. 

A range of different topics were covered, from questions on education and the environment, to taxes and the state of New Zealand's mental health system. 

Craig focused on Labour's education policy, including plans to increase mental health and career guidance services at secondary school level, and providing three free years of tertiary education. 

Surendran said her vision was for a "kinder, fairer and healthier New Zealand". 

The Green Party's plans would focus on healthy homes, swimmable rivers, action on climate change, and more access to mental health services, she said. 

Bond, who was a former student at the school, took a slightly different tack in her appeal to the students.

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While she talked on NZ First's vision for preparing young people for work in a digital world, her focus was more personal. 

"I was taught here the school motto "not for school but for life is learning", and I've pulled on that evermore in my day-to-day life. 

"When I was at this school, we weren't allowed to talk about politics, sex, drugs, rock and roll, nothing dangerous.

"It's a real privilege, [and it's] surreal that I'm standing here with these candidates – because that would not have happened in 1992."

The meeting was organised and moderated by students Phoebe Lee and Sally Bodle, who had been organising the event for the past three weeks. 

Lee said the idea had come after teachers had organised a meeting with the candidates on the education policy. 

"We thought we'd just run with it. There's a lot of us who don't have a lot of knowledge about the election and the different parties."

Bodle said while she felt the event was a success, it would have been good if it could have gone on a bit longer. 

Year 13 student Brooklyn Knight, who attended the meeting, said the upcoming election had become a hot topic at school. 

"It's been a huge part of the year ... there's been a major debate in almost every class. 

"Girls that you'd never expect to have an opinion on politics have been getting really involved, they've taken the initiative to get into the different policies and ask questions." 

 - Stuff

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