Young National's Northern region chairperson Aryana Nafissi (Photo: Eddy Fifield)

Youth Wings: Finding a second family in the Young Nats

Summer reissue: The chair of the Northern Young Nats says her party feels like a family, and they’re sticking together despite the political turmoil of 2020.

First published August 24, 2020.

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Aryana Nafissi’s favourite show is Question Time on Parliament TV. The Young Nats’ Northern chairperson watches the repeats at night with her sister Azita, who says it “beats Real Housewives” for entertainment value. “Yeah, there’s some banter,” Aryana agrees.

She joined the National Party in 2016, and was elected the Northern region chair of its youth wing earlier this year. Growing up, her family never really talked about politics. “Our dinner table discussions used to be like, ‘Oh Mum, I want chickens,’ says Azita (the family now has chickens). “Now it’s like, ‘What are your thoughts on abortion?’ Which is obviously a bit more intense.”

Despite a fairly apolitical upbringing, Aryana says her personal values naturally aligned with those of the National Party. “One thing I’m really passionate about is a hand up, not a handout, because that’s what creates long-term change,” she says.

She thinks the idea that her party is “just for the rich” is one of the biggest misconceptions people have about National. “I’m not rich, you know what I mean? A lot of people in the party aren’t.”

Seeing her party led by three different people within the space of two months this year has taught Aryana what a tough game politics can be. “Paula [Bennett] said it, they’ve all said it – it can be brutal.” One of her biggest political inspirations, Nikki Kaye, was a victim of the turmoil, announcing her resignation from parliament after losing the deputy leader position.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone in the public service, because if you’re doing it right, you don’t really have a life,” Aryana says. “Your life is actually the country’s.”

Youth Wings is made with the support of NZ On Air. Watch the other episodes of Youth Wings here.

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