Rangatahi Ngāpuhi Champion Youth Voting in Auckland

By Jessica Tyson

Two rangatahi from Ngāpuhi are spearheading the Auckland Council’s Youth voting programme. 

Star Rawiri, 19, (Ngāpuhi me Ngāti Tūwharetoa) sits on the Auckland Council youth advisory panel advocates for voting as the ideal vehicle to rectify past wrongs.

“A lot of people say, ‘Why vote when it's not going to have a difference'. But the only way we can change the injustices we see in the system for our whānau is if we vote”.

Despite losing her grandfather recently, she wanted to press the importance of voting as a way of carrying on his work.

“He was very active in the community and he was very staunch Ngāpuhi, so he had a lot to say about a lot of things but they were always pono, they were always right you know...So I'm happy to represent him at this time and I know that he'll be proud”.

Star Rawiri and her cousins. Source: Te Ao

Auckland Council's Youth Voting programme

To foster higher youth participation in local body elections, Auckland Council's Youth Voting programme is teaching students about local government and the importance of voting.

Aorere College Deputy Head Girl Jade Nathan says she feels "well equipped" to take part in next year's general election after taking part in the programme.

“It’s really given me a lot of confidence, learning about who these people are knowing what they do. It kind of gives me a voice and what I’m choosing, she says.

"People who start voting at a young age often become lifelong voters. I intend to exercise my right to vote at every opportunity".

A number of Auckland schools are hosting local election candidates as part of the programme. Nathan is one of the students helping to organise a candidate evening at her school.

“I've heard talk about there being a policy where they're making it a policy for schools to learn te reo. So I think thats a really good law that'll be set in place so that our language doesn't die.”

Project leader for Ngā Pōti o Taiohi, Youth Voting Programme  Tamsyn Matchett says the programme is also about fostering leadership among youth.

“It's really important in this programme to foster young Māori leadership so rangatahi like Jade, who could potentially in the future decide that they want to represent their community at that level".

Only two out of 20 Auckland ward councilors are Māori. With a quarter of the Māori population living in Auckland, the council is working to ensure Māori needs are addressed.

“A lot of their decision making are waterways and anything to do with the whenua. They usually go to the Māori Statutory advice Board, says Rawiri.

“They're trying, they’re definitely trying”.

Jade Nathan. Source: Te Ao

Mock election

About 13,000 Auckland school students will cast votes in a mock local election from today.

Auckland Council General Manager Democracy Services Marguerite Delbet says students from 74 schools have spent the last few weeks learning about how local government affects their everyday lives.

"The mock, online election will see thousands of students put their education into action", says Delbet.

"They'll be able to vote for the actual candidates running in this year's election and then compare the mock results to the official results".

The youth election runs from 16 September until 27 September and will include a referendum question about safe transportation around schools. Students aged older than 15 can also take part.

Voting opens on Friday, September 20.

Key election dates

  • 20 September - Voting opens
  • 4 October - Vote Friday
  • 8 October - Last day to post voting papers (ballot boxes will still be open)
  • 12 October - Voting closes at midday
  • 17 October to 23 October - Official results announced