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Poti pati to promote importance of voting

It was a poti pati (vote party) at Marina Park yesterday where whanau were encouraged to enjoy casting their votes in the local elections.

Everyone was welcome to come along and cast their votes in the official ballot box, and community liaison staff from the Electoral Commission were there to help.

Sixteen new enrolments were completed, and 18 votes were cast throughout the day.

One new enrolment and vote was from an over 60-year-old woman who had never been on the electoral roll until yesterday.

Special assisted voting was available next door at the Gisborne District Council.

Live music performances, games, a bouncy castle and a free sausage sizzle were provided for people to enjoy while they cast their votes.

“The point of this is to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, enjoy voting and enjoy being a part of it,” event organiser Tina Ngata said.

“We have a really unique opportunity to put in place a really diverse council this year but I think that is only going to happen if we get a strong voter turn out.

“I’m really happy with that, I would have been happy with just one more vote, but this is great.”

It was hard to say why there was a low voter turnout so far, she said.

“It’s one of the lowest turnouts we’ve had in a while, which is a pity.

“I’m speculating but I would say one of the reasons for it is that when people have a lot going on socially for themselves, people tend to experience political fatigue.

“We saw that happen in the US, when people feel besieged they feel that their say has no strength. I think that’s a lot of what we are seeing here.

“It’s a reflection of everything our people are going through at the moment.

“I really hope we can get our whanau out and vote, make their vote count and see some positive things happen for our region.”

It was very important to vote in local body elections as it determined whether or not you had a say in issues people were facing, she said.

By yesterday, 10,050 votes had been cast which is 30.92 percent of registered electors.

“So much is at stake in this election and electors have an opportunity to vote for a council that reflects them and their aspirations for Tairawhiti – don’t miss your chance to have your say with your vote,” said GDC director of internal partnerships James Baty.

The event was sponsored by Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou.

All opportunities to vote in the local elections close at 12 noon on Saturday.

POTI PATI: A whanau voting day was held yesterday to encourage people to vote. Tiffany Haami-Jones (left) was one of the people who voted and Hope Pohe, a community liaison officer from the Electoral Commission, was there to help. Picture by Liam Clayton