Young Labour President Katie Wilson was at intermediate school when she first became aware of inequality.
“My mum is a teacher and taught at my intermediate school in Auckland shes started a breakfast club for children who were coming to school hungry,” said Katie, who was elected unopposed at the Young Labour 2015 conference in Wellington in April.
“She had always talked to me about things like the importance of good educational opportunities for all children, but it was the breakfast club which really got me thinking about the fact that not all the children at my school were getting the same opportunities. It seemed so unfair.”
During orientation week in her first year at the University of Auckland, she spotted the Princes Street Young Labour stand and signed up.
“The first meeting I went to was the AGM,” said Katie, who is 22. “It was a bit intimidating because everyone seemed to be more politically aware than me and there were a lot of acronyms I didn’t understand, but various people took me under their wing and explained how it all worked.”
She ended up coming away from the meeting as Maori representative – her grandmother on her father’s side is Ngati Paoa.
“That was the start of a series of roles on the Princes Street executive. By the next AGM I understood how things worked and became Social Secretary, then Treasurer the following year and Chair in 2014. I was also the Auckland Organiser for the national Young Labour executive in 2013 and Woman’s Representative last year.”
She cut her campaigning teeth in the 2011 General Election and the Christchurch East by-election and, in 2014, along with the Princes Street team, she campaigned in almost every Auckland electorate as well as phone canvassing every Wednesday.
She’s currently taking a year out from her studies for a BA in film, TV and media, having recently returned from travelling. She’s working in retail and throwing herself into the work of Young Labour President.
“I felt this year that I had good experience at Princes Street and national executive level under my belt and have gained a lot of skills I can put into practice on a bigger scale.
“A key focus for me this year will be increasing youth participation in Labour - I want to make sure all types of young people have a voice in young Labour – and widening our membership. I’d like to see more young working people involved, and more young Maori and Pasifika people.
“We are working on a plan – Charm Skinner, Maori Sector Organiser on the national Young Labour Executive, and I have just met with Peeni Henare to discuss that.
“I want to ensure young people aren’t put off coming to a Young Labour meeting because they don’t think they know enough about politics. I speak from experience that you’ll get a warm welcome and people are only too willing to spend time explaining stuff to you.”
To contact Katie email: firstname.lastname@example.org