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Labour’s Mâori Chair writes off Mâori youth

20 June 2006

Labour’s Mâori Chair writes off Mâori youth

Mâori students are appalled at the comments of Labour List MP Shane Jones, Chair of the Labour Party’s Maori Caucus, who suggests appealing to Mâori youth is a waste of time because of their low participation as voters. Mr Jones, in a recent media interview, made these comments while criticising the Maori Party for appealing to youth.

“We are appalled at the suggestion that what appeals to youth does not matter” says Veronica Tawhai, Kaituhono of Te Mana Akonga, the National Mâori Tertiary Students’ Association. “Once again we are reminded that the government’s focus is staying in power, and not responding to the needs and interests of the various groups who make up our society”.

Jones’ suggested that youth are only appealed to by lively political debate rather than the substantive issues at hand.

“We are sick of the patronising argument that rangatahi Mâori aren’t politically inclined because we ‘don’t know and don’t care’, or are only interested if it’s entertaining” said Miss Tawhai. “We know the issues, how they affect us, and do our utmost to have our concerns heard.”

“Perhaps Mr Jones has forgotten that many of our leaders of the past, including the Young Maori Party, were indeed young and not old when they first came to prominence as leaders.”

“Youth voting is directly linked to the hope that our issues will be heard and considered. The comments of Mr Jones that suggest we are only worth our vote, is the very reason why some have no faith in the political system and therefore don’t participate”.

“The Maori Party MPs question government Ministers to hold them to account – not as some cheap gimmick to appeal to youth. If Mr Jones can’t handle the heat, perhaps he should get out of the kitchen”.

“We will all enjoy a better democracy once our politicians demonstrate to Mâori youth that participation is worth while. We should be thanking those who currently, through their actions and questioning, give us that hope” concluded Miss Tawhai.

ENDS

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