I would like to acknowledge all the visionary women of the Rodney District who signed the suffrage petition, which led to women gaining the right to vote in 1893. New Zealand made history in a world first we can all be very proud of as we celebrate the 125th suffrage anniversary. My great, great grandmother Edith Marcroft, who came to New Zealand on the Matilda Wattenbach in 1862 and settled in Wharehine, was one of 32,000 women to put her name to this movement. . Today, I wonder how Edith would feel if she knew that all these years later her great, great granddaughter was a Member of Parliament. It took another 40 years after women got the vote before the first woman entered parliament. The first woman MP was Elizabeth McCombs, who won the Lyttelton by-election after the death of her husband.
Until the 1980s, under the first-past-the-post electoral system, the number of women in Parliament did not exceed ten, equivalent to about five per cent of the total number of MPs. There are 149 women, past and present, who have entered the House of Representatives. Of the 120 MPs in this Parliament, 48 are women. New Zealand ranks 20th in the world in terms of the percentage of women in lower houses of Parliament. The Rodney district is well served as we have three women MPs in government, one of whom is a Government minister. They are passionate about our people and our unique slice of paradise.
Looking ahead to 2019, I am excited to be able to offer interested youth a unique experience of being involved in politics. The ninth Youth Parliament is being held next year, and I’m seeking applications from local students to be my Youth MP. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone aged 16 to 18 who is passionate about issues facing our younger generation. The Youth MP will participate in the Youth Parliament programme, consisting of a six month tenure from March to August and attend a two-day Youth Parliament event in July. This triennial programme gives young people the opportunity to understand and be a part of the Parliamentary process and connect with their communities. It will be a significant opportunity for 120 young New Zealanders to gather the views of their peers and bring young people’s voice to Parliament.
Every Member of Parliament will select a Youth MP to represent their community. I’m seeking applications from interested students. It will be great privilege to take the youth voice of Rodney to Parliament. For those interested please email me, Jennifer.Marcroft@parliament.govt.nz
Jenny Marcroft, Matakana-based MP