Like father, like son
(Picture caption: Jerome Mika Junior dreams of following his father, left, into politics after being a part of the 2019 Youth Parliament. Photo: Supplied.)
Jerome Mika is constantly reminded of his father, as not only does he share the same name, but he possesses the same desire to bring about positive change within Māori and Pasifika communities in Aotearoa.
The 18-year-old University of Auckland Health Science student, who has a goal of becoming a Paediatrician or Neurologist, was selected as a Youth Member of Parliament (MP) for Labour Party List MP Hon. Willie Jackson in the six-month 2019 Youth Parliament programme.
A two-day event in Wellington was recently staged in July, where 120 Youth MPs and 20 Youth Press Gallery members attended Parliament and were able to share their views on issues they are concerned about.
Politics has always been a part of Jerome’s life – and he believes it will continue to be in some shape or form, particularly following Youth Parliament, he says.
Of Samoan, Māori (Ngati Awa, Ngai Tuhoe, Te Whanau-A-Apanui) and Dutch descent, Jerome was raised on Auckland’s North Shore before later moving to Papakura with his four younger brothers.
“At a young age, I was heavily involved with politics due to my father’s connection to the Labour Party,” Jerome explains.
Jerome Mika (Senior) – an experienced unionist with a large Pacific network was a Labour Party candidate for Papakura in 2014.
“I was often brought along to meetings, and participated in many union pickets and social justice protests in my early childhood years and dad has always encouraged me to serve our community with humility, retaining my values and remembering where I came from no matter what,” he says.
During the first half of this year, Jerome has spent time shadowing Minister Jackson, and has attended local community meetings in Auckland as well as internal Labour Party meetings.
“The lead up to the Youth Parliament event has been very informative, interesting and exciting,” he says.
“Engagement with Willie’s political advisors also provided me with an in-depth understanding into the role and responsibility of a MP.”
Youth Parliament has been a great experience for Jerome, who has learnt more about how the New Zealand parliamentary system works, while also meeting a range of great young leaders, he says.
“The experience has been hugely beneficial for me as it has fuelled my passion for politics providing me with institutional knowledge on influencing change.
“I now know I can use my knowledge, skills and experience to advocate and influence political structures to ensure the aspirations of our Māori and Pasifika communities are fulfilled.”
Watch HERE as Jerome Mika questions the Minister of Health in Parliament about prioritising funding for suicide prevention for Māori and Pasifika.