Massey University politics students with Jacinda Ardern (sixth from left)

Jacinda Ardern talks about life as an MP

A class of Albany politics students gained some insight into life as a Member of Parliament this week, with a visit to campus from Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern.

Senior lecturer in political theory and public policy Associate Professor Grant Duncan says Ms Ardern’s relative youth (at 34) makes it easier for students to relate to her story.

“Jacinda’s pathway into politics clearly follows her personal values, but that’s not always the case for our MPs. Hopefully her insight will inspire some of these students to go on to serve in politics.”

Ms Ardern says she was driven by a desire to help people change their individual situations, and got her first taste of this as a student in Morrinsville. “I ran for the student council, on the platform that female students should be able to wear corduroy pants and Doc Martens instead of skirts, and I won,” she says.

She outlined the many "hats" an MP must wear, working for the party, her role within Parliament as an Opposition MP, and, despite not being an electorate MP, providing support to constituents in her area. “We don’t get the same staffing or funding for this, but I feel it is important,” she says.

Ms Ardern says a lack of civics education in schools may be contributing to the ongoing trend of young people not voting. “Young people are less likely to be enrolled, and less likely to vote. How do we get the ideas we’re debating as politicians out into the public arena?”

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