Niki graduated last year from the University of Otago with a BA(Hons) in History and Politics. Niki wrote her dissertation on the New Zealand Green Party’s electoral strategy since 1990, and has since co-authored a journal article for Environmental Politics on the Greens’ electoral success in 2011 with Otago lecturer and political commentator, Dr. Bryce Edwards. She has also studied environmental politics in Europe, while on exchange at the University of Glasgow in 2010. Niki moved to Wellington in March and is currently working as a Research Analyst at the McGuinness Institute.
What three issues facing youth today do you feel particularly strongly about?
The impact of climate change and decades of unsustainable resource use will be the single biggest challenge facing our generation. We need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, work out how to adapt to a changing climate and avoid further environmental degradation. It’s important that youth are at the centre of this conversation as we will be inheriting the consequences of these decisions.
We desperately need to help graduates find rewarding jobs that make the best use of their skills. It’s not hard to see why Australia is so attractive when graduates in New Zealand face an increasing debt burden, low wages, and high unemployment. We need to make staying in New Zealand an attractive and realistic option for talented young people.
We also need to encourage youth engagement. Particularly at primary and secondary school, I don’t think enough emphasis is put on civics education and discussion around important national issues. We have really low youth voter turnout in New Zealand, which might change if youth felt more included in national debate.
What changes would you like to make to the way New Zealand is governed?
I would like to see our leaders take a more long-term approach to public policy in New Zealand. Too many current policies reflect short-term, ad hoc decision making at a time when long-term, sustainable policy development is more important than ever. Governments need more gumption!
What actions, if any, are you planning to contribute to the constitutional review?
I think the review is an exciting opportunity for broader discussion about how New Zealand is run. I didn’t do first year law, which means I have only a basic knowledge of our constitutional arrangements. I plan to educate myself so I can more actively engage in the debate.