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Time for a ‘youthquake’ in NPDC elections, says first-time voter

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Voting papers are about to arrive in mailboxes, and one New Plymouth teen is mad keen to show she cares about the District’s future and cast her vote. 

New Plymouth Girls’ High School student Jezza Vivian says it’s crucial young people turn out and vote in the 2019 local body elections and has already picked out her favourite candidates. She told NPDC she’ll be encouraging her friends to vote as ‘not voting is the one way to guarantee your voice will not be heard’. We caught up with this empowered teen to find out more about why she’s such an enthusiastic young voter.

Why are you voting in the NPDC elections?

I am voting as I want a say in electing who I believe represents my values. It’s up to me to choose who I think is most appropriate to express my voice on our local council.

This is your first time as a voter, what does that mean to you?

It means a lot. As a first-time voter, I am so excited to have my votes and opinions finally count!

Voter turnout in the New Plymouth District is sitting at about 47%. How do we get more young people to take part?

I believe the key to encouraging youth to vote is educating them on why their vote matters and exposing them to the candidates in a way in which they relate to - maybe holding enrolment workshops at high schools?

Why should young people vote?

Voting is a way youth can have their say. We are the ones growing up in today’s society, and we’ve had no say for 18 years. Now is finally our chance to try and change the things we don’t agree with. We cannot let this opportunity pass.

What are the key issues facing our district?

The biggest issue facing our district is the issue that faces our planet: the climate crisis.

The Mayor and councillors make big decisions about our future which touch our everyday lives. How do you think NPDC can get young people more involved with that decision-making process?

I think a brilliant way to get youth more involved is to have a youth council and have a representative of the youth council actively involved in decision-making processes within the NPDC.

We’re using STV for the first time, have you picked your candidates yet? I have a pretty good idea of who I’m going to be putting on my STV voting paper however I am still unsure on the order.

What’s your message to the new elected members?

Stick to your values. People have voted for you based on these, so be their voice and represent them.

You’re in your final year at school, what’s next for you?

As I am currently in my final year of high school, next year I am hoping to expand on Voices of the Future. Voices of the Future is a platform that aims to provide rangatahi with opportunities to have their voices heard as well as to educate and facilitate intergenerational discussion. VotF was co-founded by myself and fellow year 13 student Nikita Taiapa.

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