Pupils put political skills to test

SHARE

JACK.CONROY@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The New Zealand National Party has pulled off a landslide victory in the recent election – at least at Blue Mountain College.

A group of pupils from the Tapanui school have rewritten history with a win for the blue team, riding a campaign promising V8 Lime scooters for everybody, free daily servings of Jimmy’s mince pies and a four-day weekend.

Every year, teacher Natalie Wright tasks her pupils with staging a mock election. The class is split into groups representing the major political parties of New Zealand.

“In previous years, we had more kids so we could do parties like the Greens and NZ First, but this year we’ve restricted it to National and Labour,” Ms Wright said.

Prime Minister Nathan Raynbird (14) said besides their substantial policy platform, it was the persuasive power of humour that won over voters on election day.

“I think we were just the funniest ones up there,” he said.

He came up with the cunning campaign slogan “our nation’s backbone” into which speech-writers could insert such red-meat topics as “farming is our nation’s backbone” and “Jimmy’s Pies are our nation’s backbone”.

The four-day weekend was the brainchild of Minister of Education Liz Lamb (14).

“That way everyone can spend more time with their families and learning outside of school,” she said.

“They’ll also be more effective in the days they’re at school.”

Clutha-Southland MP Tait Robertson (14) had his finger on the pulse of the local electorate, proposing that all residents receive a Toyota Land Cruiser with a bull bar on their 16th birthday.

“Make sure you put in the part about the bull bar,” he said.

Behind the scenes, Minister of Communications Tristan Wesselson (13) launched a grassroots promotional campaign involving “handing out pamphlets and things like that”.

The man behind the money was Minister of Finance Lincoln Norman (13) who backed a minimum wage proposal that raised the current $17.70 per-hour rate to $27.25.

Ms Wright said the exercise had been a good tool to increase her pupils’ confidence in formulating ideas and presenting them, and it “demonstrated how democracy works in our country”.