Vote 2022: More Māori, Pasifika and women wanted to stand for local bodies

By Stefan Dimitrof

Māori make up less than 14% of councillors on local bodies and that's one of the reasons an innovative campaign has been launched to try to make Aotearoa the most inclusive and active local democracy in the world.

Vote 2022 Campaign: A national kōrero about local elections aims to improve diversity on local bodies where the average age of councillors is from the fifties to sixties and they are mostly Pākehā men, with only 41 per cent women, 13.5% Māori, and even smaller numbers of Pasifika and other ethnicities. 

But Local Government New Zealand chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said her organisation's "bold ambition" to try to achieve this goal would take more than one election cycle to get lasting changes.

“We know that workload, pay and a lack of inclusion are all real barriers to getting diversity into local councils," Freeman-Greene said. "These are issues that have built up over time.” But she said there was an opportunity, through the Future for Local Government review, to address these issues”.

The Vote 2022 campaign will be run in partnership with Taituarā, Local Government Professionals Aotearoa, the national membership organisation for local government professionals 

The campaign will be rolled out via social media, video and radio in partners that are community-based. It will be run in two phases; the first encouraging people to stand in the election for local government and the second is for people to vote.

Delivering local democracry

Historically, the national election has always had a good voter turnout whereas local body elections get about half the number.

“This year, things must change to deliver local democracy that represents all communities, especially after this pandemic," Freeman-Greene said.

LGNZ President Stuart Crosby said A wide diversity of candidates was needed to stand and represent their communities when decisions are being made.

"We also need everyone to learn more about their local candidates, consider their motivations and vision, and have their voice heard when they vote.”

Crosby said, “Now is not the time for people to turn off”.  

“It’s time for everyone to be heard and included, to shape the community they live in as Aotearoa looks to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.”