Article from the East and Bays Courier, written by Amy McGillivray.
Click here to see the original article.
Politics is the last thing on the mind of most 17-year-olds but Vainga Pahulu is not your typical teenager.
The Tamaki College student has been selected to represent the Tamaki electorate at July's Youth Parliament in Wellington.
Vainga, the political junkie of her family, is thrilled she was selected for the two-day event held once every parliamentary term.
"It was overwhelming because no one's interested in politics aside from me. They're proud," she says of her family.
Each school in the electorate was able to nominate one student with Tamaki MP Allan Peachey making the final decision on who would go.
Mr Peachey was looking for a student who is confident enough to speak in the house, has a good grasp of the political process and is committed to serving the electorate.
"She has a very good understanding of the way the parliamentary process works," he says.
"She's a most unselfish young lady."
Vainga is looking forward to seeing how the House of Representatives works and experiencing Parliament first hand.
She will be part of the social services select committee discussing alcohol, will take part in a general and legislative debate on the topic and be responsible for asking the supplementary question.
The year 13 student will also have full use of Mr Peachey's office and his executive assistant.
Vainga hopes the experience will help her encourage others to do their part.
"Most people in this community don't understand. You have to know to get involved."
As far as advice for the teenager, Mr Peachey wants her to enjoy the trip.
"Be humble, modest and learn. Keep your eyes open and love every moment," he says.
A prefect and the students' representative on the board of trustees, Vainga has had a passion for politics since she was at intermediate and hopes the trip will help her decide where she wants to go with it.
She plans to study law and science at university next year and has already been awarded a First Foundation scholarship which will help pay for study and provide work experience with Telecom.