A Social Justice Week seminar in Palmerston North on 14 September was an attempt to get politicians and others to walk alongside young people in looking at the issue of meaningful work for the young worker.
A Tongan student who came to New Zealand when she was five, said her parents have gone back to studying to try to get better paid work.
They have had to borrow to cover the cost of their studies and those of their five children.
The seminar, attended by almost 120 people, was given a great start when the keynote speaker, Cathy Bi from the Caritas Advocacy and Research Team, immediately got everyone involved, sharing their experience of their first job.
Youth panel members Kaisa Beech, Edward Richards, Fabian O’Halloran and Asher Goldman, each approached the topic from a different perspective. This laid down the challenge for politicians to respond.
Rangitikei MP Ian McKelvie represented the government; other MPs included Palmerston North MP Ian Lees-Gallaway, Labour, and Greens Industrial Relations spokesperson Denise Roche. New Zealand First MP Asenati Lole Taylor travelled from Auckland for the seminar and Bonita Moyes represented the Mana Party. Each one struggled to keep their initial response to five minutes but they all took advantage of the opportunity to respond to questions from the audience.
The seminar ended with a brief but thought-provoking address from Bishop Owen Dolan. The Diocesan JPD Commission is to be congratulated for facilitating this dialogue on an important justice issue for the future of our nation.