Few things fill me up with more pride for our national beauty quite like staring out across Lake Wakatipu at the Remarkables in the gorgeous city of Queenstown, and nothing gets me more hyped for an election year than being there with 60 other Young Nats preparing for the campaign ahead!
And yet, that was where I found myself a few weeks ago for the 2020 Young Nationals’ Leadership Conference.
Being a Young Nat is awesome for the opportunities it provides us, chief among them being the access to a whole network of politically minded young people with the same shared values. In Queenstown I had the chance to catch up with my old mates from the Lower North Island Region, as well as get to know more from across the country, as far south as Invercargill and as far north as Northland (not to forget the Young Liberals member there with us from Australia!).
This connection to the rest of the organisation is positive for a Young Nat like me; be it simply from having more people to talk politics with over a pint, to learning how we operate across the country as well as bouncing policy and campaign ideas around. It makes us an even more effective political force, bringing together the Young Nats and their collective experience.
Beyond the social aspects of the weekend we were there to upskill, grow in our leadership potential and ability to campaign effectively. 2020 being the first election campaign for myself and many others, YNLC was essential for giving us the ground level knowledge that will certainly be the foundation for further campaign experiences.
For this purpose, there were various workshops on all aspects of campaigning. These included sessions on leading campaign teams and O-Week stalls, managing finances, digital campaigning and the practical side of door knocking and telecanvassing.
These sessions were fantastic for hitting the ground running, making us as effective as possible in the campaign. They were also especially inspiring as they were all run by current or former members of the Young Nats. It was encouraging that what we were learning had been tried and tested by those with experience and know-how.
On our second day the door knocking training found itself being promptly used as the team set out on the weekend’s campaign session, a round of door knocking. We quickly found out there’s no learning like doing as we hit the streets of Queenstown reaching out to over 2000 locals and engaging with voters from across the country. It was a great chance to hear what mattered to Kiwis as we come into the election as well as cut our teeth on what the Young Nats do best.
The idea of door knocking seemed pretty daunting to me at first. I’m sure there were many in the same boat as me, but we were all grouped with a team lead that had done it all before. After a bit of observation and guidance, however, before I knew it, I found myself confident and able to lead the charge going door to door. Now I can safely say I’m fizzing for another chance to go out in my own community, to connect with more constituents and get them to vote two ticks blue!
Overall, it was easily the highlight of my Young Nat experience so far. It fully cranked up the election year hype for me and the wider organisation. I’m more confident and eager to campaign than I thought I ever would. The thought of being able to one day share my own knowledge and experience with future Young Nats excites me as much as I’m sure it did to those with me there. Thanks to the Young Nats Exec for putting together such an epic weekend, I can’t wait for the stories we’ll be able to share at the Young Nats Leadership Conference in 2021, celebrating a Simon Bridges led National Government!
As the old adage goes, there’s truly never been a better time to be a Young Nat.
Lower North Island Young Nats
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