Focus on increasing young people’s political participation in New Zealand at Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Roadshow  

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) has brought its youth engagement programme to New Zealand with a CPA Roadshow visit to St Mary’s College in central Wellington. The CPA Roadshows highlight the importance of encouraging youth engagement in the political process and the sharing of Commonwealth political values, especially with the 60% of the 2.4 billion population of the Commonwealth who are aged under 30.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan held an engaging CPA Roadshow session with 24 students at St Mary’s College, a state integrated Catholic secondary school located in central Wellington that caters for the education of 625 girls, with 17% identifying as Pacific and 13% as Māori. Students had the opportunity to discuss the importance of the Commonwealth and of parliamentary democracy with the CPA Secretary-General. The CPA Roadshows provide an opportunity for young people to learn about the political values of the Commonwealth such as diversity, development and parliamentary democracy; to discuss issues of concern about the society in which they live; and to find out about the work of the CPA. The CPA Secretary-General also spoke to students about the 2017 Commonwealth theme of a ‘Peace-Building Commonwealth’ launched by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Head of the Commonwealth on Commonwealth Day and how the cornerstones on which peace are founded are respect and understanding for one another. 

The CPA Secretary-General was accompanied by New Zealand Member of Parliament, Munokoa Poto Williams MP, who is the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP) Vice-Chairperson, representing the Pacific Region. Students at the CPA Roadshow heard from Munokoa Poto Williams MP who spoke about the Parliamentary System in New Zealand and her role as a Member of Parliament. The CPA delegation also included the CPA Pacific Regional Secretary, Ms Wendy Hart from the Parliament of New Zealand.

The Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Mr Akbar Khan said: “I am delighted to return with the CPA Roadshow to New Zealand for the second time to engage with local students on the values that unite the Commonwealth. The CPA’s public engagement work across the Commonwealth and engaging young people in the democratic process by discussing the importance of the Commonwealth are key objectives of the CPA and our visit to New Zealand has emphasised this. It was a pleasure to have shared a platform with New Zealand Member of Parliament, Munokoa Poto Williams MP to engage young people in discussions on politics and issues that are directly relevant to them.”

The CPA Roadshow has previously visited New Zealand in July 2016 when the CPA Secretary-General delivered a CPA Roadshow to students on the Victoria International Leadership Programme at Victoria University in Wellington. 

The CPA Secretary-General also visited the Parliament of New Zealand during his visit where he held bilateral meetings with the Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. David Carter MP to discuss the progress in the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The CPA Secretary-General also held a bilateral meeting with the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Samoa, Hon. Leaupepe Taimaaiono Toleafoa Faafisi, who was visiting the Parliament of New Zealand to mark the 55th anniversary of the 1962 Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa.

During his visit to New Zealand, the CPA Secretary-General also attended the first CPA Pacific Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Lecture hosted at the Parliament of New Zealand in Wellington and attended by the Speakers of the New Zealand Parliament and the Legislative Assembly of Samoa as well as many Members of the New Zealand Parliament.

The CPA Secretary-General also met with the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians in New Zealand led by Munokoa Poto Williams MP, CWP Pacific Region Steering Committee Member, to discuss gender equality in the Pacific Region and CPA/CWP initiatives to support women into Parliament.

The Secretary-General also visited Massey University’s Design+Democracy project, which aims to improve voter turnout and engage citizens in social issues by harnessing technology. The project’s past initiatives include web tools VoteLocal, On the Fence and Ask Away shown to be the most successful in engaging young electors during the 2014 New Zealand general election.

The CPA Secretary-General discussed the CPA’s work in engaging Commonwealth Parliamentarians in key human rights issues with Chief Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford and Chief Executive, Cynthia Brophy, and the CPA’s wide range of programmes with Angela Hassan-Sharp, Divisional Manager United Nations and Commonwealth Division (UNC) at the New Zealand Ministry Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

For images of the CPA Roadshow and CPA Branch visit in New Zealand please click here.


Published Friday 5th May 2017.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), now in its 106th year with HM The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth as its Patron, exists to develop, promote and support Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance and to implement the enduring values of the Commonwealth.

The CPA is an international community of around 180 Commonwealth Parliaments and Legislatures working together to deepen the Commonwealth’s commitment to the highest standards of democratic governance. Parliaments, their Members and officials learn from each other through CPA activities: Annual Commonwealth Parliamentary Conferences, Regional Conferences and other symposiums; Interparliamentary visits; Parliamentary Seminars and Workshops; Publications including The Parliamentarian, the Journal of Commonwealth Parliaments; and the Parliamentary Information and Reference Centre.

For further information about the CPA, please contact:

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
CPA Secretariat, Westminster House,
Suite 700, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA,
United Kingdom
T: 44-20-7799-1460
F: 44-20-7222-6073
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