Hone Harawira is someone who believes in standing up for what one believes in – a man of ‘mana’ you could say. In 2011, Hone left the Māori Party and became leader of New Zealand’s newest political party, Mana. Hone has had a long involvement in the fight for Māori rights and speaks of his goal being to help Māori people achieve their tino rangatira-tanga.
What do you think it means to be a New Zealander in the 21st century?
I think now is a really significant time for New Zealanders, especially for the relationship between Māori and Pākehā. If we can acknowledge the true history of our country, the fact that He Wakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Niu Tireni and Te Tiriti o Waitangi are the two founding documents of New Zealand then I think that what it will mean to be a New Zealander in the 21st century will be special. We will live in unity, with all people expressing great respect towards our similarities as humans and differences as cultures.
What do you think are the major issues facing youth today and in the next 20 years?
I truly believe that poverty is the basis for the many major issues that youth are faced with. If not dealt with immediately then poverty will also be an on-going issue for youth in the next 20 years. The unemployment rate in New Zealand is ridiculous and is one of the biggest issues amongst our youth. The threat to introduce youth rates doesn’t help the situation also. In addition to the financial struggle suffered by many youth is the high cost for education we must pay with the hope that this could provide sustainability for our long-term survival. The reality that education fees subsequently see many New Zealanders in debt and working hard to pay off student loans etc. is another demand that causes stress on youth.
Why do you think youth should vote?
Voting allows us, as youth, the opportunity to contribute to the decision on who will govern and manage our country. Youth, unfortunately, suffer the many consequences from the decisions made by those who are in power. Thus we need to be involved in order to make changes within our political systems for the advancement of youth survival.
Why do you think it is important for youth to engage with the referendum?
Youth engagement with the referendum gives youth the chance to have a say on the voting system we use to elect our parliament.