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Source: Save the Children

Local body politicians will team up with rangatahi representatives tonight in Y Vote, a live online panel exploring the debate around lowering Aotearoa’s voting age to 16.
Held via Zoom at 7pm tonight, Thursday 18 May, and facilitated by youth magazine founder Lola of Create Happy Media, the panel is made up of four rangatahi representatives from Make it 16 and Save the Children New Zealand alongside Far North Mayor Moko Tepania, Board member Apulu Reece Autagavaia, Auckland councillor Kerrin Leoni and Kāpiti Coast District Councillor Sophie Handford, who was elected at the age of 18 as one of Aotearoa’s youngest councillors.
Attendees will also have an opportunity to put their own questions to the panel.
“The Y Vote panel discussion aims to create deeper understanding on youth voting – an issue that is currently poorly understood, yet is important not only for rangatahi, but all New Zealanders,” says Save the Children New Zealand’s Advocacy Director Jacqui Southey.
“By exploring the debate around lowering Aotearoa’s voting age together, including the merits and controversy, we can work towards an outcome that ensures young people have their rights upheld, while being heard on issues that matter to them.”
The event, part of Youth Week 2023, follows last year’s Supreme Court ruling in favour of the Make it 16 campaign that paved the way for this law change that the provisions of the Electoral Act 1993 and the Local Electoral Act 2001 were inconsistent with the rights declared in the New Zealand Bill of Rights, which states the right to be free from discrimination on the basis of age.
The panel aims to foster constructive conversations with youth and the wider public about this important issue, drawing from international precedents where the voting age has been lowered and amplifying the voices of rangatahi who have led the Make it 16 movement across Aotearoa.
About the Make it 16 movement
Make It 16 is a non-partisan youth-led campaign advocating for the vote to be extended to 16 and 17-year-olds in Aotearoa. We believe in the power of youth voice, and letting young people have a say on the decisions that will impact them the most. There are lots of reasons why we believe in lowering the voting age, but fundamentally voting is a human right. There is insufficient justification to stop 16-year-olds from voting when we can drive, work full time and pay tax.
Make it 16 was formed out of Youth Parliament in September of 2019. Our launching event was hosted by Chlöe Swarbrick and featured speeches from many people including then Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft, Wellington City Councillor Tamatha Paul, Labour MP Greg O’Connor and many more. “In the past three years our campaign has won a Supreme Court case, gained over 7,000 signatures for our first ever petition, handed over multiple open letters, and written submissions to select committees – all to convince the government and public that we should lower the voting age, and we have been so successful that a bill will be drafted this year to lower the voting age to 16 for local elections.
We pride ourselves on being the first country in the world to give women the right to vote, and although there are at least a dozen countries with a voting age of 16 already, we can be next. Youth-led activism in Aotearoa – past and present – has highlighted how 16 and 17-year-olds both want and need a voice in our democracy.
About Save the Children
Save the Children was founded in 1919 and is the world’s leading independent organisation for children. We work in 120 countries around the world, responding to emergencies and working with children and their communities to ensure children survive, learn and are protected. In Aotearoa we advocate for change to improve child wellbeing, realise children’s rights and ensure children and youth voices are heard. We support the Make it 16 movement and call on the Government to re-prioritise action on introducing a new Bill to lower the voting age to 16.
Save the Children New Zealand works across Asia-Pacific, supporting international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Nepal. Our areas of work include child protection, education and literacy, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation and alleviating child poverty.
About Youth Week 2023
Rangatira mō āpōpō? Rangatira i tēnei rā!
Leaders of tomorrow? Leaders for today!
Youth Week is a nationwide festival of events organised by young New Zealanders to celebrate the talents, passion and success of local rangatahi.
Youth Week aims to amplify young people’s valuable contributions to their communities by supporting them to design, deliver and evaluate all aspects of the week. Events are designed to encourage young people to take on challenges, share ideas and focus on the positive aspects of being young. The week also recognises the youth workers, youth service providers and others working with and for young people.