Logan Park High School pupil Jacobi Kohu-Morris gives his state-of-the-nation address to the New Zealand First Party Conference in Auckland last month. Photo supplied.
Jacobi Kohu-Morris is not even old enough to vote yet, but
that is not stopping the 17-year-old from having his say
about the state of politics in New Zealand in front of some
pretty high-profile politicians. John Lewis reports.
A politically precocious Logan Park High School pupil was
recently invited by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters
to give a state-of-the-nation address at the New Zealand
First Party conference in Auckland.
Jacobi Kohu-Morris has also been invited to attend the
party's campaign launch on August 10 in Auckland.
Jacobi first met Mr Peters in 2013, when he was selected to
be Mr Peters' youth MP at Youth Parliament.
His oratory skills have won him the Nga Manu Korero Otago
Southland speech contest twice and the Otago Secondary
Schools speech competition twice in the past two years.
Mr Peters was so impressed by Jacobi he asked him to be the
guest speaker at the party's conference last month, and give
a 30-minute address about what he saw as being New Zealand's
main political issues.
Jacobi said it was an honour to speak at the conference, but
made it clear he was not affiliated to any particular party.
''I don't really think that any of the parties are all that
great at the moment, to be honest.
''I don't find them very inspiring, but I thought it was good
for me to go up to New Zealand First and present my views as
a young, independent person ... even though I'm not allowed
to vote yet.''
He spoke on the widening gap between rich and poor, the
struggle for ordinary Kiwis to save for and own their own
home, the importance of education, and the integrity of our
He said it was time New Zealand's political leaders started
leading with ''integrity, consideration of all of our people,
and with the future of our nation as priority number one''.
''Our politicians spend more time talking about Kim Dotcom
and the scandals of the GCSB than the 285,000 Kiwi kids
living in poverty.
''The Government is putting in place some patch-up policies
like asset sales, in an attempt to deal with the deeply
embedded societal problems that we have - problems of
poverty, inequality, housing and education.
''These problems will only be overcome when we start to
propose real, significant reforming-style policy - policy
that will start to rid this nation of these social and
''We have changed into an unfair, unequal place where the
rich live in paradise and the rest of the nation struggles
desperately to battle on.''
Jacobi said New Zealand was at a ''crossroads''.
''Our country is changing so rapidly, it would seem that we
are now forced to choose whether we stand by our egalitarian
ideals, or whether we continue to go down that same road of
inequality, neo-liberalism and corruption.''
He told the conference he had little confidence in the future
of the nation.
''It's time to start talking the real issues, because if we
leave them as they are, then it won't be your generation that
has to deal with it. It will be mine.''
Mr Peters said had he not been there to see Jacobi, he would
have believed him to be much older.
''His depth of understanding of the value of having a fairer
society was amazing for a 17-year-old.''