A WHAKATANE schoolboy is having his voice heard in Parliament as he takes on New Zealand’s laws single-handedly.
Conrad House from Allandale School presented a petition to the House of Representatives last Wednesday to ban the use of neonicotinoids in New Zealand.
Neonicotinoids are blamed for the decline in honeybee populations and the European Union imposed a ban on them in 2013.
Conrad collected over a thousand signatures in under four months and personally handed the petition to Labour List MP Kiri Allan on the steps of parliament.
“Since I was two, I’ve always loved bees, I think it was the colours and the noise they made as well as the pollen sacks on their legs,” said Conrad.
“I learnt at school they were under threat and heard how important they are in helping us. One in three mouthfuls of food we eat has been pollinated by a bee.”
Conrad has been relentless in his pursuit to save bees and when given a choice between having a ninth birthday party and flying to Wellington to hand over his petition, he chose the petition.
On the flight to Wellington, Conrad never lost sight of his goal and was allowed to use the intercom to urge other passengers to sign the petition, which he said was “really cool”.
Conrad’s was the only petition heard in the House that day and he said after it was read out Kiri Allan and several other Labour MPs, including Kris Faafoi and Nanaia Mahuta, clapped and gave him the thumbs up.
“That made me feel really good and I felt proud,” said Conrad.
Conrad’s mother, Claire House, said she had been really impressed at how Ms Allan and her Whakatane office staff member Anne Collins had treated Conrad throughout his mission.
“They spoke to him as though he were a peer and gave him really good advice,” said Mrs House.
“They spoke to him directly rather than through me; it was really empowering for him and he owned it.”
Following the reading in the House, the petition will now be heard by the Ministry for Primary Industries Select Committee of which Ms Allan is chair, she had previously declined to sign the petition due to this conflict of interest.
While Conrad is hoping for a complete ban of neonicotinoids, he said he would accept tighter restrictions on their use as a compromise.
“I want to thank the petition champions, so everyone who has signed the petition,” said Conrad.
“I also want to thank the people who have helped me to get the signatures and Anne (Collins) for her help and funny jokes.”