This is the fifth of our Bants with Baby Back Benches interviews. Through this series we want our readers to get to know the youth leaders of our political parties, ready for our eventual youth leaders debate, and the upcoming election.
If you’d instead like to listen to our complete conversation click here
By Paul Simperingham, interview with assistance from Liam Davies
Liam and I interviewed Aryana together so that at least once an interviewee would get to see that we both did in fact exist. Aryana was the chair of the Alfred Street Young Nationals in 2019, however, since then she has moved onto Chair of Northern Young Nationals. Unfortunately, partway through the interview, Liam did have to leave, however I think we managed to hold down the fort without him.
Liam started by asking how Aryana got into politics, specifically National, and specifically her position in Young National.
Aryana explained that as long as she could remember the conversation at home had revolved around big topics and big questions “How can we make society a better place? What policy should we be implementing?”. And without realising it so had the National Party in a way, “Funnily enough, my parents never really outwardly said they supported National but I guess they were the values I grew up with.”
So when she arrived at uni it was only natural that “It was actually the first club I joined at uni.” From there she slowly moved into larger and larger roles, however, she does point out that she didn’t make the decision all of a sudden. “I always admired those who did it and for those, it went well for. But it took until this year and having a really great deputy that I was excited to run with”. Previously with
From there Liam moved onto asking about the youth vote, why don’t more young people vote? What can we do about it?
“I think that sometimes people feel like their vote doesn’t make a huge change. They ask, ‘what’s my vote really doing?” She believes that too many people just don’t understand how the system works, how much power they have, and if they don’t they aren’t having their say.
I push this point by asking how she thinks we can change that.
She thinks that getting more politics and more discussion into school will help a lot. She has made attempts to speak at her school however they have to stay a-political, but she questions: “why don’t we then just get all the parties? Then it’s fair right?”
It was at this point that Liam quietly left to go pretend to pay attention in class. We pushed on bravely without him.
When you hear ‘Young Nat’ a lot of the time a specific stereotype appears in your mind, I asked Aryana what she thinks of this.
“Well, if I believed that image I don’t think I would have signed up.” She does point out that she doesn’t really fit the stereotype. She’s not a white male, she has Persian background, she didn’t go to King’s College, and that the people in Young Nat’s come from a range of backgrounds. “We’re not all rich cats, it’s people who’ve had some of the most horrific backgrounds. I just feel really lucky to know them.” She thinks the stereotype probably comes from people thinking National and their supporters just care about the environment, however, the environment is something that matters a lot to her. “So yeah, don’t believe the stereotypes and come see what we’re like.”
The big question of the interview, I asked why she thinks young people should vote National at the election.
The key points were the key points of the party. Jobs and Infrastructure. She spoke of concern for unemployment coming out of COVID and felt that National was the best choice in that area. That National sees the “post COVID world as an opportunity to make New Zealand the best that it can be.” She believes that a National government will restore business confidence, and that “when Judith crushes it and is Prime Minister” (she did apologise for the crusher line, but said that she couldn’t help it) young Kiwi’s will again have faith in their future in New Zealand.
The other primary area was their infrastructure plan, she thinks it’s a plan for the future and that future generations won’t end up in the infrastructure deficit that we’re currently in. She points to the proposed four-lane highway to Northland as a way to further unlock New Zealand’s economic ability.
I push her a little and ask about any non-infrastructure policy she is excited about
She points to RMA (Resource Management Act) reform as one of National’s top priorities and something she is really excited about. “Why I really like it is because they want to put in an environmental standards act and an urban planning act.” She points to people’s concerns about the environment without the RMA but thinks that National’s replacement legislature will do a great job at protecting environmental standards.
Finally, I ask her what to expect from her at the debate
“A lot of energy, I’m looking forward to it. I hope there’s a crowd because I like when people get into it.”
Come see Aryana debate the other youth leaders at Baby Back Benches event! While it has been delayed due to lockdown, to keep up on updates event info can be found here