National selects 17-year-old as Palmerston North candidate

Straight from high school, 17-year-old William Wood is stepping into politics as the National Party's candidate for Palmerston North.

William Wood. Source: NZ Young Nats/Facebook

His selection was announced yesterday and he will contend for the seat in the 2020 election. He will go up against Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. 

Mr Wood, who was Ian McKelvie’s Youth MP, will be National's youngest candidate ever, after just finishing his final year at Palmerston North Boys High School. He will be 18 in January - in time for the election - and will re-sign his candidate nomination form after that.

National Leader Simon Bridges told 1 NEWS "what he lacks in experience he makes up for in enthusiasm and energy" when asked about his age. He also said it was good to have a range of ages in the Party.

"William won’t be alone, he has the wisdom of a big organisation and Parliamentary team beside him. I’m looking forward to working with William and hitting the campaign trail with him," Mr Bridges said. "National is a big team and we plan to get bigger." 

In a statement, the Young Nat said he was "incredibly humbled and excited to be selected to run in my home electorate of Palmerston North".

"Palmerston North is my home. It has all the benefits of a large city alongside a great rural community. The people here work hard and expect the Government to spend their tax dollars wisely."

Mr Wood may be young, but he's already come out swinging at the Government.

"Our community has benefited from the previous National Government’s strong economic management, but unfortunately it’s suffering under the Labour administration’s failure to deliver," he said.

"Business confidence is plummeting and it’s having a very real impact on our local small businesses. A National government has the positive plans and expertise to turn this around."

Mr Wood touted his experience as head of his school's debating team for this year, and having been selected as the top debater for Super Eight Schools Competition. He also placed nationally at the United Nations Association of New Zealand speech competition.

He has also taken on other youth leadership roles including being a member of the Palmerston North Youth Council, a representative on the PNCC’s Creative Communities Committee, been the School’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Secretary General, and has been elected as a member of the Wellington Region United Nations Youth Regional Council for 2020.

He was unavailable to comment when the party was contacted by 1 NEWS today as he was travelling to Brisbane with his school's debating team.