Aucklanders have less than two weeks left to vote for who they think has the greatest vision for Tāmaki Makaurau. This is their chance to have their say and choose.
However, in 2019 more than half of Auckland’s eligible voters did not participate. In an attempt to address this, a panel of passionate members of the community recently convened to delve into why it’s important to vote.
Auckland Conversations hosted a super cool lineup of civic-minded Aucklanders to discuss why Tāmaki Makaurau should be more engaged in the local elections.
Held at Aotea Centre, the in-person event was hosted by Matty McLean from TVNZ’s Breakfast who brought his flair and enthusiasm to the vigorous conversation. Alongside Matty were Erin Temu from the Electoral Commission, Julie Watson from Silver Rainbow and Rainbow Tick, Latayvia Tualasea Tautai from YWCA – a global movement working for women’s empowerment, leadership and rights, and Sunday magazine’s e-tangata journalist Teuila Fuatai.
In front of a live audience and those who beamed in online, the panellists set the scene by describing their love for Auckland and how they are passionate about its beaches, the people and its inclusivity. The conversation then reflected on their experiences within the community, explaining what inspires them to take part then identifying reasons why some are not as engaged.
Why is it so important to vote?
When asked why it’s important people engage in local elections, Erin and Teuila both agreed that everyday services run by the council are essential. For example, during lockdown – green space was more important than ever.
“When the city's not working, it matters to us even more. It really affects our everyday lives.”
Teuila also pointed out some people think they don’t need to vote because, “I don’t pay rates,” not realising how local government decisions also impact their lives. She explains, “actually you do pay rates – I pay rates through my rent.” And so it affects everyone.
It was agreed that,
“If you don’t have a say – you’re not only giving up your rights, but also your vote.”
Julie explained that engaging in the local elections is how you “amplify your voice by voting for people who are like you”.
However, historically the number of voters is low and it’s really important to “make sure your communities are represented,” So make sure you ask all those around you to vote too.
Do we have a good cross-section of representatives to vote for?
As Senior Engagement Lead for the Electoral Commission, through his work Erin observed,
“From what I’ve seen, there’s a lot more diversity this time round. More so than the last two elections.” Latayvia, the youngest on the panel agreed, “This election, there are people from communities who I recognise and who I can vote for – I’m very excited about that.”
In saying this, Julie added a piece of valuable advice for voters,
“We really have to be discerning. It’s not about people who have lots of billboards… spending resources to make a splash. It’s about… how do I pick the people with values I feel I can align with.”
Latayvia advocated those inequities need to be acknowledged – it’s hard to think about democracy and elections when you’re working hard to keep the lights on or fill up the pantry. She felt young people aren’t engaged because there is a gap in curriculums for civic education and politicians only tend to engage with youth at election time for photo ops, rather than genuinely reaching out and being where rangatahi are.
The people voted into positions will be making decisions on Auckland’s behalf and these decisions affect the daily lives of all who live, work and play in Tāmaki Makaurau. To have the best people weighing in on Auckland’s development, budgets, water, parks, reserves and playgrounds, waste services, libraries, pools and leisure centres and so much more – Aucklanders need to vote. Every vote counts. Whether you’re a renter or ratepayer, if you don’t exercise your right to vote – you’re letting someone else choose for you.
A full video recording of the discussion is available to watch here.
Can you change Auckland? You can.
Remember to vote before midday 8 October.
Find the candidates that are right for you: voteauckland.co.nz/findcandidates
For everything you need to know about voting: voteauckland.co.nz