Could Rosa be the next Jacinda Ardern?
Rosa Miles-Seeley is a young woman with a major ambition … to become a Member of Parliament in New Zealand.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Anyone who starts a written application for a bursary with a quotation about wishing to change the world deserves to be noticed, but it was not merely Rosa Miles-Seeley’s literary skills (and she has an abundance) that won over the grants committee for the Port Chalmers Lodge Bursary Award, it was more that Rosa has an total determination to succeed. At the grand old age of 18, Rosa bluntly informed us that her aim is to become a Member of Parliament.
For a person so young her CV is pretty impressive. A former student of Rudolf Steiner School and latterly Logan Park High School, Rosa has a long string of “Excellents” from her academic endeavours. She was the leader of her School House and head of the Logan Park Student Council, which she reorganised to make it more inclusive, representative, and generally more effective that it had previously been. She encouraged younger council members to speak in public forums to promote Student Council initiatives, and in one case fostered the efforts of a 13-year old student to organise a mufti day in which 600 students took part, the majority of whom were older than the organiser, to raise money for charity. Rosa clearly has the potential to become a new leader of new leaders. Indeed, it was she who with the aid of a friend, began the youth-run, not-for-profit initiative, ‘Beats In The Streets’ in Dunedin. Beats In The Streets, also known as ‘BITS’, is a youth organisation that promotes young musicians to perform in, around, and on, the streets of the City, and in this manner showcases their talents to the general public. The financial beneficiaries, however, are not the musicians themselves but the homeless, as any money thus raised goes directly to the Dunedin Night Shelter.
Rosa explained, “The fundamental philosophy behind ‘Beats In The Streets’ is that young people in our beautiful city have a vision for our streets as vibrant spaces, home to music and creative expression, but not as a permanent home some of society’s most vulnerable people. We are committed, therefore, to create a future where nobody in Dunedin needs to resort to sleeping on the street, and where residents and visitors alike can enjoy our city’s unique creative culture.”
It is an ingenious programme, that benefits two diverse groups, and the people of Otago should make great efforts to promote.
Rosa was a leading instigator who secured funding from the Ministry of Internal Affairs that helped ‘BITS’ to act on their second objective. This was to organise social events to foster connections between the young musicians in Dunedin and provide them with the opportunity to form new groups, there was also a ‘Going Pro’ workshop organised for them to attend to help equip them with the skills required to protect their intellectual property, and to take their next career step by having their music aired on the radio, while guidance was provided to allow them to complete a debut album. It was while in this role that Rosa realised how valuable legal knowledge is in such a complex scenario, as she and the other ‘BITS’ organisers struggled with the issues of incorporation, the prospect of liability claims and the general, but now official, aspect of their new venture.
“It was at this point,” Rosa informed us, “that I decided that taking a degree in Law at Victoria University in conjunction with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, majoring in Public Policy and minoring in New Zealand Sign Language was the path for me. My intention is that the skills I am hoping to master from this conjoint degree will provide me with the mental resources to create the changes that I want to see in the country. Mental acumen to fight when I see that something is wrong, and to possess the depth of understanding to allow me create change.
OMCT Chairman, John Dennison, explains to the $5,000 bursary recipient, Rosa Miles-Seeley, how the Port Chalmers Marine Lodge Bursary Award came into being.
Although thankfully not as common as in other cities in the world, the disadvantaged people who have to resort to sleeping on the streets of Dunedin desperately require our help.
I also intend to take papers in Maori language, as I feel uncomfortably ignorant about their language and culture, and I acknowledge that this is a language that is essential to learn, not just as a citizen of Aotearoa but definitely for someone who wishes to work within its Government.”
The day of the bursary presentation dawned cool and cloudy, but the sun shone in the shining smiles of the recipient and the proud parents that accompanied her, Linda Miles and Rob Seeley.
Rosa informed the welcoming committee of Freemasons that greeted the family at the Dunedin Masonic Centre, that she learned that she had been awarded the 5,000-dollar prize in her very final Biology Class at school – she let out a wild shriek of joy that stopped the whole class! She next rang her mother, who was equally thrilled. Clearly delighted with the outcome, Linda told us, “Rosa was really excited. In the past she has seen other students receive bursaries and financial awards, but now for her to obtain a bursary herself; it was almost unbelievable.”
OMCT Chairman, John Dennison, was as ever on-hand to present Rosa with the $5,000 cheque. He was well supported by committee members, Ross Hudson, Ashley Broad and his wife Marion, Mel Darling (who represented Port Chalmers Marine Lodge), Richard Wells and the Otago Masonic Charitable Trust Secretary, Grant Watson.
During the presentation we discovered that making change in the world isn’t Rosa Miles-Seeley’s only interest and, bearing in mind her workload, it is astounding that she finds any time to do more. Rosa, however, plays the cello, sings in two choirs, enjoys competitive water polo and basketball, and attends yoga and meditation classes. She is also an avid student of New Zealand Sign Language, a language in which she is already almost fluent.
OMCT Secretary, Grant Watson said of Rosa that, “When you first meet her, she comes across as a very confident, well-balanced and extremely focussed young lady, who has set for herself almost impossibly high goals, yet I believe that she will do the hard yards to achieve them.”
Speaking further to Grant Watson, Rosa told him that she feels there is now “quite a shift in attitudes toward women” and that she is inspired by the impact that the NZ Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and Green Party MP, Chlöe Swarbrick, have had within New Zealand politics, but believes that there is so much more still to do. She is also influenced by the ‘Me Too movement’ and, although she is passionate about empowering women in the workplace and drastically reducing the gender pay gap, her main focus is on inequality in all its guises, with special emphasis on eradicating the scourge of homelessness in New Zealand.
In her submission for the Port Chalmers Marine Lodge Bursary, Rosa informed the committee that she finally left school with this policy on academic work: “If you take a class in which you do not try 100% – why take it? If you don’t love a subject, either learn to love it or drop the class. Live is too short not to enjoy what you do.”
She takes this ethos with her to study Law and Public Policy at Victoria University, and anyone with such an enthusiastic, “can do” attitude is unlikely to fail to hit whatever target they’ve set for themselves. So, my advice to the ‘Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod’ is, “Don’t bar the doors of the New Zealand Parliament to Rosa Miles-Seeley, Mr Black Rod, she’s the calibre of woman who would simply batter them down.”
A delighted Rosa Miles-Seeley is shown holding her $5,000-dollar bursary cheque, flanked by committee members Ashley Broad, Chairman John Dennison and representing Port Chalmers Marine Lodge, Mel Darling.