The Speaker-led Outreach Programme took Parliament to the Bay of Plenty last week. Children at two schools and students from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology got the chance to meet the Speaker of the House, Rt Hon Trevor Mallard who was accompanied by Tauranga-based MP, Jan Tinetti and local electorate office staffers Maree Brookes and Jenny Wotten who work for Hon Simon Bridges and Hon Todd McClay.
The group visited Merivale School in the morning where they talked to two classes about some of the ways kids can get involved and effect change by engaging with Parliament. They covered some real examples of children who have petitioned Parliament and the outcome.
Sausages were sizzled at Toi Ohomai’s Windermere Campus, where students also got to take a spin around Parliament on the Virtual Reality headsets.
In the afternoon, children at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori O Te Matai in Te Puke welcomed the group onto Te Matai Marae. Students then had a question and answer session with the Speaker.
Rt Hon Trevor Mallard is passionate about making Parliament more accessible, to enhance public perception of Parliament and increase public participation in New Zealand’s democratic process.
“We want all New Zealanders to know that they can easily and effectively engage with Parliament, no matter their age or background. Not everyone can make it to Parliament, so it is easy for people to feel detached from the processes,” says Mr Speaker.
“Taking Parliament to the regions helps to rectify that feeling of detachment,” he says.