Initiative to have rangatahi voices heard in local politics begins

By Stefan Dimitrof

Antoine Coffin (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Raukawa) of Tauranga, is a New Zealand descendant of French and American settlers, has held many titles, and has received numerous awards for his work in project management, including writing the Ngāi Te Rangi environment management plan.

Now Coffin and his team are using Get Vocal In Your Local, an interactive online tool to help young people have their voices heard in all community matters. Rangatahi around Aotearoa are being invited to help shape the future of politics, as part of a review of the future of local government.

Coffin says they want to gain intelligence into what rangatahi are thinking about in local government matters.

Coffin shared that young Māori are twice as likely to join local government than non-Māori. “Rangatahi Māori are the most active in the Māori community, which is quite different to what people would expect. So more than five percent of elected members are Māori in the rangatahi group. and that's much larger than the two per cent of non-Māori.”

Rangatahi voices are not heard often “unless you provide a vehicle of access to do so,” Coffin says.

Take the survey

"We thought  an online tool would be familiar to rangatahi and will be able to promote this through a number of channels, schools and organisations that are working with youth."

Rangatahi interested in getting involved are encouraged to visit the Get Vocal In Your Local website and take the five-minute survey. "The great thing is that it's asking questions that are familiar to you and incorporating Māori language so people feel familiar.

“We're trying to reduce as many of the barriers to making a submission as possible with the help of technology, which rangatahi will be very used to."

Coffin says he wants 16 and 17-year-olds participating in local government and potentially looking at the idea of them getting the vote.

"New Zealand has always been a country that increases the participation of groups like women suffrage, Māori, lots of ethnic migrants get the vote as well and we are thinking the same terms for rangatahi."