Voting not a priority for homeless

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Over the past week, New Zealanders have exercised their democratic right to vote for their preferred government for the next three years. However, for some of the country's most impoverished and needy, voting is not a priority. 

53-year-old Cookie has lived on and off Auckland’s streets and has never voted.

"I don't see whether I'm going to make a difference or the point. Most of the governments that I know that get in, they seem to say one thing before they get in and then change," he said. 

Council stats say there are nearly 24,000 homeless in Auckland alone. But for some of Auckland homeless, voting is not a priority.

"I'm not voting this year, I didn't get my enrolment form in on time," said James.

"The homeless don't care about voting whatsoever. Full stop," said Ken.

"They're more interested in getting something in their tummies and a roof over the head, would be more accurate, than worrying about who's getting into parliament and who's getting big cash pay-outs."

Auckland City Mission staff are operating at full capacity due to the demand for social services. Missioner Chris Farrelly wants the new government to eliminate homelessness.

"To create a strategy for New Zealand to end homelessness or at least be it brief, rare and non re-occurring. In order to do that, we need a national strategy," said Farrelly.

When asked what they needed, Ken said, "More understanding."

"Everyone needs money aye, everybody needs money," said James. 

"I think for me it will just employment, work," said Cookie.

People with no fixed address are eligible to enrol, but need to provide a residential address where they have lived for at least month. But the Electoral Commission say they don't have any way of knowing how many people experiencing homelessness have voted or will vote.