By Will Lewis, National Policy Chair
The best way to start the year is definitely as a member of the Young Nats.
Summer in New Zealand calls for plenty of time to be spent at the beach under the sun. So, that’s exactly what the Central North Island Young Nats did. We hit up some of the best holiday destinations in our region. After Christmas, we pitched our big blue marquee on the beaches of Pauanui and Whangamata, followed by Mount Maunganui to see in the new year. We gave away over a thousand sausages, a heap of freebies and some political wisdom to those who cared for it. Countless swims, ice creams and lost cricket balls later; we all headed home several shades darker, or at least redder. I came home with recharged batteries and boundless optimism for the year ahead. The highlight of the road trip was meeting a bunch of fantastic young people and connecting with some of the very best aspects of New Zealand.
In Whangamata I met an Otago molecular biotechnology Masters student. She was passionate and fired up about researching in one of the world’s most exciting and fast-growing fields of science. An area that will, among other things, seriously shape the development of world-class healthcare in New Zealand. At the Mount I met a school student who was excited about the prospects of pursuing a career as a lawyer internationally as well as a builder who is presently in midst of the biggest construction boom New Zealand has ever experienced.
We had a lot of good yarns with a lot of everyday Kiwis. I came home with the distinct impression that many New Zealanders are doing extraordinary things and are optimistic for what 2017 has in store.
Heading into the holiday period we already knew that New Zealand was well-placed to smash things out of the park in 2017. We saw the latest Treasury forecasts that predict economic growth of 3.5%, decreasing unemployment, rising surpluses and reducing net debt. But even better than seeing forecasts like that, has been seeing the real impact that these metrics have on young New Zealanders. Not only were beachgoers full of positivity about 2017, but we learnt that the key policy priorities of young people are being addressed by the government. There are science and innovation grants for biotechnology researchers. There is trading partner growth, creating international career opportunities for budding lawyers. We are working on Resource Management Act reform for builders wanting to see more affordable housing.
Our summer road trip reminded me that, as a Young Nat, you get to meet an incredible array of young people and see the absolute best of New Zealand. The summer road trip was just the start of what will be a fantastic year to be a member of the Central North Island Young Nats. Just around the corner are our local O-Weeks, where we can have some more fun with likeminded people. Then there will be some fantastic social and policy events; party conferences and the biggie – what could prove to be a historic election campaign!
I’m excited for the opportunities that being a member of the Young Nats will bring this year and excited for the great year that 2017 will be for New Zealand.