Young people having been popping up all over New Zealand, running for their local councils in a movement called the ‘youth quake’. We spoke to Sarah Thomson, a young woman part of this movement about her passion for climate action, how to make a change and what she thinks about young people running for council.

Tell us about yourself!

I was born on the outskirts of Hamilton and grew up in a family of six. My dad is a conservationist, so I developed a love of nature at a very young age. I went to high school at Fairfield College, where I was head girl in 2008, and later studied for a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws at the University of Waikato. During my time at Waikato I spent time teaching English and studying Mandarin in China, which was an amazing opportunity to understand another language and culture.

While in university, I became increasingly concerned about the climate crisis, the unequal impact that it will have on the poor and our youth, and the lack of action I was seeing. In 2015, while still a law student I filed a judicial review case against the New Zealand government to challenge its inadequate climate targets, which was eventually heard in the High Court of Wellington in 2017. While the Court didn’t order the relief that I sought, the case has helped to lay the legal foundation for future climate change cases to come.

For the last couple of years I have worked in Auckland as both a commercial and community lawyer. I love my work as a community lawyer, as I get to help people with legal issues that have a direct impact on their lives, including employment, debt, housing and family issues. While in Auckland, I also helped to lead a local advocacy group to press the council to take action on climate change, which has given me insights into the workings of local government and grown my passion for politics.

How do you think learning another culture and language will help you in your running for council?

I think learning someone’s language helps to build a very personal connection with them. It also means I can connect with those who aren’t very confident in speaking English.

Are you still in Auckland? Why not run for Auckland council?

I’m still working at my law job in Auckland a couple of days a week, but spending most of my time in Hamilton now. Hamilton is where I grew up and have lived most of my life, it’s where family is, and where my husband I would like to settle down. I know the city well, and so I felt like it was the right decision to move back and stand for Council here in Hamilton.

What are your main goals for your campaign and why?

I think learning someone’s language helps to build a very personal connection with them. It also means I can connect with those who aren’t very confident in speaking English.

What would you say to people who think young people (under 40) are too young to run for council?

What matters is a person’s attitude, values and work ethic, regardless of their age. Also, age isn’t always a good reflection of life experience. There are plenty of examples of people under 40 achieving great things. Our own Prime Minister is under 40, after all!

If you would like to find out more about Sarah, or support her running for council you can pop over to Facebook here or you’ll find her website here.