Comment permalink

UN Youth New Zealand member Ben Hawke wants more Dunedin pupils to engage in political events for youth. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
UN Youth New Zealand member Ben Hawke wants more Dunedin pupils to engage in political events for youth. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Dunedin pupils are under­represented at events designed to inspire global citizens, a Mosgiel teenager says.

UN Youth New Zealand member Ben Hawke (15) represented Dunedin at two national events for the non­profit community organisation.

The organisation provides opportunities for young New Zealanders to engage with pressing global affairs and lead in the spirit of the United Nations.

The organisation is run entirely by young volunteers aged 25 and younger or full­time tertiary students.

The King’s High School pupil spent four days attending the Aotearoa Youth Declaration at Auckland University in Auckland in April.

Participants investigated a range of issues, such as lowering the voting age, and developing policies to present to politicians.

Of the more than 300 pupils at the event, two were from Dunedin.

The second event, NZ Model United Nations, was held at Victoria University in Wellington for four days earlier this month.

The event offered high school pupils the opportunity to experience life as a diplomat with workshops and simulated committees.

Each participant took on the stance of a particular country and debated a number of resolutions from that stance, all within formal rules of procedure similar to that of the United Nations general assembly.

Ben represented the United Kingdom, and visited the British Embassy in Wellington.

More than 270 pupils from across New Zealand participated. About 10 of them were from Dunedin.

The lack of Dunedin pupils was ‘‘a shame’’, Ben said.

‘‘It would be kind of nice if more people from Dunedin went because cities such as Auckland and Wellington are over-represented.’’

He enjoyed the events because he got to spend time with ‘‘like-minded people’’ and have opportunities to speak publicly and debate issues, such as ‘‘is taxation theft or not?’’

Ben estimated each trip cost him about $700 but it was worth every cent, he said.

If the cost was a factor, cheaper events were available in the South.

‘‘People don’t know they are interested in politics until they attend events like this.’’ Ben said.

He was a member of the Dunedin Youth Council and it was recruiting later this year.

He was hoping to be accepted for the NZ Model Parliament in Christchurch in August.

When asked his favourite politicians — living or dead — he answered: ‘‘Dead: It’s a tie between [former United States president] John F. Kennedy and [former British Prime Minister] Winston Churchill. Living: ACT Party leader David Seymour. I’m a bit of an anarcho-capitalist — a classical liberal kind of guy.’’ 


As much as I applaud this young mans determination to be 'represented' in global affairs, I am drawn to report from the Rochester University Medical School that states:

"The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so.

In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part."

Surely decisions regarding the future of our planet should be placed in the hands of those who think more rationally and have had more 'life experience'?



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter