Rhodes Scholar calls for civics education to better engage young people in politics

Author Max Harris says New Zealand needs to introduce civics education in schools to allow young people to learn more about politics and encourage them to vote.

Max Harris says it's time for a fresher political debate to engage more people in the process. Source: Q+A

The 28-year-old's book The New Zealand Project will be published later this month, and he TVNZ's Q+A this morning it is time for a fresher political debate to engage more people in the process.

"The deeper things are a bit harder – around respecting young people's voices and maybe doing politics in a way that appeals to people more," Mr Harris, a Rhodes Scholar, said.

"One way we can get there is through talking about values a little bit more, and in particular, values of care, community and creativity that I think connect to the heart as well as the head and connect to people’s everyday experiences."

He said people often talked about young people not being engaged but he did not agree with that entirely.

"Young people are engaged in lots of other ways – on social media, through blogs, through music, through street art," he said.

"Politicians need to also look at themselves and ask whether the political system's appealing to young people."

"There's a lot of throwaway talk about listening. I'm not sure how much young people really feel listened to by politicians at the moment."

Max Harris' book The New Zealand Project is published on April 11 by Bridget Williams Books.