Opotiki teenager gets bird’s eye view of Parliament as Youth MP

Tame-Cole (T.C.) Koroheke Satele was an introverted young person before he began studying with Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura).

Now, he is confident presenting in public and able to enjoy taking part in Youth Parliament 2019, much of which, he says, is because of Te Kura (formerly known as The Correspondence School).

T.C. has been in Wellington this week, along with a group of about 120 young New Zealanders also selected for the programme, which provides an opportunity for young people to be heard, and for Youth MPs to work on topics and issues they feel strongly about.

He was selected as a Youth MP by Attorney General and Environment Minister David Parker and in May travelled to Wellington where he spent time in the Minister’s office.

That visit he says was “a rollercoaster of emotions”.                       

A visit to the Māori Select Committee Room was special.

“With the tututuku patterns adorning the walls and the Pacific themed committee room with totems greeting the entrance – seeing the cultural inclusivity throughout the halls of Parliament was a gratifying experience and one that brought me much national pride.”

T.C. says another pinnacle was visiting the Prime Minister’s office.

“To be in proximity to where our past leaders have been situated since 1977 was an unbelievably surreal feeling.”

He says he could never have imagined finding himself in such circumstances, especially being able to get an insider’s perspective of a busy ministerial office – “truly feeling otherworldly from the perspective of a small-town teenager”.

As well as having a seat at the table in select committees, T.C. will be taking up his seat as a Youth MP in the Debating Chamber.

He describes the experience as interesting, mind-opening, and exhilarating.

“Spending time with like-minded people who are interested in the same sort of things has been amazing.

“Parliament is such an important space, and for me it’s a safe space to be here as a Youth MP. There is a lot of diversity, a lot of representation here. I feel so much cultural pride being here.”