The government allows 16-year-olds to give consent, have sex, drive, and pay taxes – so they should be allowed to vote too, new Far North District mayor Moko Tepania says.
The Supreme Court declaration that the government needed to justify its current age limit for voting and consider a younger age limit has come too late to help him win his own seat.
But the potential effect 16 and 17-year-olds may have on the political landscape is something Tepania is highly aware of, having worked closely with the youth of his hometown, Kaikohe.
“Let them vote. They're ready.
“I assume politicians are fearful this may impact their campaigns next year. They shouldn't be fearful, let them vote."
Should 16-year-olds be able to vote?
Youth ‘leading the way’
Tepania says the 16- and 17-year-olds would be more enthusiastic about voting than the 18 and above voters.
“In our regional election, almost 30,000 people in our region didn't vote. How sad. We should be ashamed.
“But that's what I think, during our campaign, those who listened and wanted to take part were our young people.
“If I think about marches about global warming and those things, our youth were always leading the way.”
He also thinks politics would need to become a compulsory school subject
“It's well overdue. Only 40% of those eligible voters voted in the most recent election.
“The reason people don't vote is that they don't understand this world. If we teach them, they'll get involved and their votes will count.”