Local government is a place for everyone
The Vote 2022 campaign which kicks off today looks to make Aotearoa the most inclusive and active local democracy in the world.
This is the bold ambition, and we know it will take more than one election cycle to make lasting changes.
Of the current mayors, councillors and other elected members: 40.5 percent are women, 13.5 percent are Māori and 56-60 is the average age. Only 13.9 percent are under the age of 40. Representation of multi-ethnic and Pacific communities has also remained low.
We know that workload, pay and a lack of inclusion are all real barriers to getting diversity into local councils. These issues have built up over time.
There’s an opportunity, through the Future for Local Government review, to address these issues. But we also know that one of the biggest challenges is that people don’t realise that serving on local councils presents a huge opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives.
The Vote 2022 campaign looks to shift the dial on that. The campaign champions local government as a place for everyone, as regions across the country hold local elections this October. Familiar faces and local heroes will share their aspirations for their community.
The Vote 2022 campaign, being run in partnership with Taituarā, will be rolled out across the country in two phases. The campaign will first encourage people to stand for election, and then to vote.
We also want to significantly increase the number of people who get out and vote in local body elections. The turnout for national elections was 82 percent in 2020 but in the 2019 local election voter turnout was just 41.7 percent.
We want everyone to see local government as a powerful platform for positive change for the benefit of current and future generations.
This year, things must change to deliver local democracy that represents all communities — especially after this pandemic.
All communities in Aotearoa are affected by the changes occurring across our nation, including the significant programme of reform under way in our sector that may change the forms and functions of local government.
Susan Freeman-Greene, Local Government New Zealand chief executive