Massey University Students’ Association Acting President and first-year veterinary science student Ngahuia Kirton has been elected as the student member of the Massey University Council.
Kirton, one of five candidates along with David McNab, the Council’s student-elected member since September 2016, studied a Bachelor of Science last year at the Manawatū campus and was previously the association’s welfare executive.
Her election was announced earlier this month and Massive Magazine caught up with Kirton to chat about her goals for the next year and how she has become so involved in student politics.
What are your goals as a member of the University Council in 2019?
I'm pretty stoked that the Council position is a two year term, because that will hopefully give enough me room to grow and develop in the position. In terms of personal goals, I really just want to make the most of my opportunity and the expertise of my colleagues. I would also like to see more students engaging with and challenging the University Council! A more political goal for me I suppose is that I would love to see another student member seat on our University Council, which is something I'll be looking into with the other Council members to see how this could work for Massey.
Your predecessor David McNab had a lot of support from the Extramural students’ community. Were you surprised with how this year’s results turned out?
I was surprised! I know David is really committed to giving distance students a voice and he's very passionate about his role as President of EXMSS. I am super grateful for the guidance and support he's offered me and continues to give.
Why did you decide to run for University Council?
Honestly, I just thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. I'm quite passionate about governance and strategy, and to be a Council member of Massey at my age is just a dream come true and a chance that doesn't come often!
For those who might be unsure, what is the role of the University Council?
The University Council is basically the governing body of Massey, so they're responsible for overseeing the whole university and making sure that the best decisions are being made about how we run, what we offer and how we are seen. It's a lot like the 'board' of a typical company.
A lot of students don’t typically know about the University Council or its role. Why do you think this is?
Totally! I think that sometimes the Council can feel very removed from the day-to-day running of the uni and it can sometimes be hard for students to identify what impact the Council really has on their tertiary experience. I think that the university could definitely launch a few awareness campaigns which would help.
As part of your role would you like to see more students taking in interest in student politics? Why?
Absolutely! Like I mentioned before, I would really like to see students becoming more and more engaged with politics on a lot of levels. I think it's so valuable to know what impacts you and I reckon a lot of people would find a passion for politics!
How did you become so involved in student politics?
I was always quite interested in politics when I was in high school, and when I came to Massey I started volunteering with MUSA which completely opened my eyes to student politics. A few people from MUSA encouraged me to get involved with Executive which I was lucky enough to be elected on to, and from there my involvement basically just grew.
What do you think the key is to get more students involved in student politics?
I think that as soon as students understand that they have a voice and they feel empowered to direct their own experience at uni that will be a flow-on effect to getting more involved with politics. Awareness is the key I would say, I don't have all the answers, but I have a few ideas!
You are currently serving as Acting President of MUSA. Do you think this has helped prepare you for your role next year?
Yes! The experience that being president has given me is actually so valuable, my governance knowledge and passion for strategy has really multiplied during my time at MUSA.
Do you see a future for yourself in politics?
Good question! As a vet student I can definitely see how my passion for politics and governance could be a big aspect of my career, but probably not directly as such. Who knows though!