Waikato Tainui and Electoral Commission unite to increase rangatahi vote

By Mānia Clarke

Waikato-Tainui and the Electoral Commission have joined forces to encourage more youth to enrol and vote. The Commission has established a Youth Advocates programme to motivate young people to participate in this year's General Election.

The youth advocates will also deliver key election day messages and will report to and work closely with the Registrar of Electors in their designated geographical areas to support and or deliver the community engagement programme targeting hard-to-reach eligible young Māori or Pacific voters.

With only 16 weeks until the elections, there's a lot of work needed to get Huntly 18-year-olds, Rima Taratu and Alison Taaka Te Kaute-Moana to the polling booth.

When asked if they were going to vote, Taratu said, "Never come to my mind, but thinking about it."

Taaka Te Kaute-Moana, said, "Honestly I just don't think yeah, not now, but I do know it does matter but just there's other stuff we're thinking about at the moment."

At the last election, the highest number of Hauraki-Waikato enrolled voters who didn't vote were youth aged between 18-24 years old. Out of a total of 5928 voters, nearly half, 47.66%, didn't vote. 

Taratu says he doesn't even know who the candidates are for Hauraki Waikato.  "No I have no idea, have no idea, shockingly," he said.

Taaka Te Kaute-Moana says she doesn't know if she will enrol on the Māori or general roll.

Hauraki-Waikato is tipped to be a highly contested seat since King Tuheitia endorsed Māori Party hopeful Rahui Papa earlier in March against his niece and MP incumbent Nanaia Mahuta. 

20-year-old Huntly resident Maui Waitohi says Mahuta does a good job.

"Yeah, I'll say yeah, cause she's like very supportive of her iwi. And she does something to help her people," said Waitohi.

He also thinks Rahui Papa would be a good candidate for the Māori Party. 

"I don't know him personally but I've heard of him on TV before, seen him on the news. He looks like a good candidate as well," said Waitohi.

A spokesperson from the Electoral Commission is recruiting youth advocacy teams in Northland, South Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Gisborne.