Young Maori appear keen about voting

REGAN SCHOULTZ
Last updated 12:00 06/08/2014

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Electoral Commission figures have revealed young Maori in Manawatu are more enthusiastic about voting than their elders.

Statistics released this week show Maori aged 18 to 24 have the highest number of enrolments compared to all other Maori age groups.

In Te Tai Hauauru electorate, which includes the wider Manawatu, 4518 Maori between 18 and 24 have enrolled, making up 14.7 per cent of the 30,766 total enrolments in the electorate.

The second highest enrolment numbers were in the 25 to 29 age bracket, which had 3371 people signed up to vote.

Countrywide results show 34,111 Maori between the ages of 18 and 24 are enrolled to vote. Palmerston North City Council principal Maori adviser Todd Taiepa said the finding was "great" news.

"It shows that voting information is being heard," he said.

"The key now will be translating those statistics to voting numbers and getting young Maori to actually get out and vote.

"We have one of the most high profile Maori electorates. Tariana Turia has had a big influence on the youth. Her presence has really encouraged Maori to have a voice."

Youth voting has been a hot topic in the leadup to September's election, with a number of campaigns directly targeting the demographic.

Community worker Peter Butler said the trend did not come as a surprise.

"There are a lot more young Maori who are highly educated, understand the importance of voting and understand how voting can shape their world view.

"I have also seen an increasing trend of political parties in Maori electorates who target the youth vote.

"Whether they actually get out and vote is another matter entirely," Butler said.

Massey University student Arpego Taratoa, 20, said voting was important to her and to other young Maori but people may only be enrolling for the novelty.

"A lot of young people will also be enrolling because they have never been able to vote before and it is a new right.

"It is important, though, because it makes a difference. If we don't vote, then we can't complain about how the country is being run."

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- Manawatu Standard

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