Increasing number of young New Zealanders get up to polling booths

(RNZ Photo by Nate McKinnon)

Katie Doyle
Wellington, October 16, 2020

There is just one sleep until election day, but that has not stopped efforts to get more young people enrolled to vote.

Danielle Lesatele, who is a youth voter advocate in South Auckland, said that the last few weeks have not always been smooth sailing.

“A lot of young people are not really informed about the election and they do not know if they are on roll and they do not know if they have enrolled or not. They do not know if they can vote or who to vote for – the Referendums as well,” she said.

Her work has made a difference, with more than 77% of 18 to 29-year olds now enrolled, up from 72.5% in 2017.

The easy part

Another youth voting advocate, Aisea Latu, said that enrolling was the easy bit.

“We live in a time and age where our young people are quite vocal when it comes to a lot of things they are always online – social media. We have always tried to guide them into the voting booths to try to make their voices heard better like that,” he said.

Aisea said that life for young people in South Auckland has not been easy this year and thinks it could be why more are hitting the booths.

“A lot of our young people are dropping out of high school to support their families and a lot of these issues come up during the debates … so it is quite important this year the young people get out there. And they are. We are seeing a lot of young people out there trying to get enrolled and getting informed,” he said.

Education issues

Someone who made sure to get informed this time was Galuafe Kivalu.

It was the first time that she had been able to vote, with the 2017 election falling just one month before her 18th birthday.

“I really was so disappointed so I’m really excited to vote this year,” she said.

She is hoping to see education issues addressed as an outcome of the election, ensuring that everyone has equal access to learning opportunities.

Another voter, Tumama Tu’ulua, said that the Referendums could be what is driving so many young people in his community to enrol.

“I have seen a lot – even my personal bubbles, the conversations we have been having – those are two issues that, especially around the Cannabis Referendum and the End of Life Choice Bill. The youth suicide rate in New Zealand, especially for Pasifika-Māori, is shocking. It is interesting to see the parallels in how people are trying to connect the two together,” he said.

People are still able to enrol to vote on election day and the Polls close at 7 pm.

Katie Doyle is Youth Affairs Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above Report has been published under a special agreement with

 The above Report has been sponsored by

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