Praise from an American in Palmy

18yo Lucas Richardson returns to US with a kete full of experiences

Judith Lacy





Days after Independence Day hoopla has died down, Lucas Richardson will arrive in Washington DC to start university. The capital of capitals is more than a hop, skip and a jump from Palmerston North but in his kete Richardson will have fond memories of Palmy’s political scene. In 2017, he moved to Palmerston North with his mother, an obstetrics and gynaecology consultant, and his sister from Cambridge, Massachusetts. After one term at Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School, Richardson started at Boys’ High School and is now in the accelerate programme. In August, he will start a four-year degree at Georgetown University majoring in either political economy or government. After his undergraduate degree, he is thinking of either law school or something in the government sector. He’s going to live on campus and acknowledges it will be a tough transition but also an exciting one. Founded in the decade the United States constitution was signed, 1789 to be precise, the university bills itself as being in the city that is the epicentre of global politics. That is what appealed to Richardson. He is in his fourth year on the Palmerston North Youth Council and his third year as its treasurer. The 18-year-old says he has really enjoyed his time on the youth council. He joined as he wanted to get involved in the city and get to know it. He’s found the city’s community leaders welcoming and says they have impressive knowledge. City council team leader Remy WaldteufelIrvine, who co-ordinates the youth council, is a great example of that. Communication between the youth council and council is good and the bigger council does consult on projects. He describes his fellow youth councillors as impressive and enthusiastic. The committee of young adults discusses issues affecting Palmy youth and represents youth opinion to the city council. It also runs events and offers scholarships. Richardson says the New Zealand political system is a great model with people coming together rather than coming apart. There is a sense of unity. Richardson has packed a tremendous amount into his time in Palmerston North; he enjoys being busy. He plays badminton — a sport he picked up when he got here, plus social basketball and squash. He was selected for the Central Regions team to participate in the June Bevan Badminton Championships in Adelaide. He plays the clarinet, does debating and is in the SOAP choir at Boys’ High. In March, he was to go on a Blake Expedition to the subAntarctic Islands but it was postponed due to Covid-19. Instead, he’s off to Doubtful Sound on a research trip that will be fitted in post-exams and before leaving for Washington on July 8. Richardson attended Blake Inspire in April 2021 and developed an interest in the marine environment in the process. The Sir Peter Blake Trust brought together 34 young environmental leaders from all over New Zealand for a week of adventure-based learning and leadership development in Waikato. He completed NCEA Level 3, gained scholarship in English and also passed a first-year English paper at the University of Waikato last year. This semester he has done four university papers — statistics and economics at Waikato, calculus at the University of Canterbury and chemistry at Massey University. He’s also been working as a Delivereasy driver and served on the Creative Communities Scheme Committee. Understanding what a thriving arts community looks like has been a key takeaway from serving on this committee, he says.