Sitting in Parliament listening to her fellow youth MPs speak passionately about politics, Esther Walters felt a sense of hope for the future.
Esther was representing Nelson along with 120 future leaders from around the country for the Youth Parliament 2019 summit earlier this month.
The 16-year-old says it was an inspiring experience.
“The strength and courage of the young people was amazing to see.”
The MPs spent two days getting a taste of life at the Beehive and had the chance to argue the merits of a sustainable energy bill in a mock legislative debate.
“It was very topical,” she says.
Esther spoke with eloquence and confidence beyond her years as she addressed parliament.
“We must be the generation that steps up and says enough is enough,” she argued to a room full of veteran politicians.
Esther was also put on the health select committee which looked at how to reduce youth suicide rates.
Esther says she considers politics a bit like ‘a game’.
“Politics is interesting because people hate it, but it affects everyone.”
Esther was elected as Nelson’s youth MP by the Nelson Youth Council in 2018 and has worked closely with Nelson MP Nick Smith ever since.
A volunteer at Whanake Youth, Esther says mental health is an issue close to her heart and she hopes to champion change in the sector.
“I have a passion for change and speaking up for what’s right.”
However, first on the young politician’s agenda is to ensure the voice of the youth is heard in the upcoming local body elections.
She will be campaigning to get more 18-24-year-olds to cast their vote come October.
“If you want politics to change you need to vote and get the people in who reflect your views and beliefs.”