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October 2, 2016 | by  | in Features |
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I Only Date People Who Vote…

Voting is the most essential component to a democracy, yet there is a common perception that students do not vote and do not care about politics.

As a political science student, understanding this stuff is kind of my jam.

We are around 15 months out from another election and I already know who I am going to vote for. With that, I wanted to find out how other Victoria University students were feeling this far out from the 2017 election and if they actually gave a shit about New Zealand politics.

Six students spoke to me about their opinions on politics and voting. The views expressed are entirely their own.

Each student fit into one of these categories: a right wing voter, a left wing voter, a first time voter, a mature student, an undecided voter, and a protester.  

These are their stories:


The Righty

Jack G* is 20 years old and is an International Relations Masters student. Jack voted in the 2014 NZ national election and the flag referendum. He voted for UKIP in the 2014 European Parliament election and the 2015 UK election, and voted “Leave” in the Brexit vote.

Do you support any political party and what influenced you to support them?

New Zealand First. My parents both vote Green and when I came to university I considered myself quite left-wing. But the more I was exposed to left-wing ideals in the university environment, the more I thought “that doesn’t make sense.”

Do you advertise your beliefs on social media and in person / on campus?

I’m not the most prominent person on Facebook, but I’m out there with Young New Zealand First during O-week and I’ll go along to just about any talk on campus and ask questions.

What issues do you think are the most important for you personally, and the rest of the country as well?

Housing, immigration, and I believe there will be a big focus on foreign policy. You see people coming to power over the world that are unpredictable. There is a real need for a great statesman who knows how to navigate the international arena.

Because of your views, have you ever experienced bad criticism or attacks on campus?

Oh yeah, take a debate last year on the refugee crisis. I was the only one who had any divergent idea. I suggested a solution based on what happened in Australia because I think it is a pragmatic way to stop more refugees drowning while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Then [ACT leader] David Seymour called me a “bigot” straight after. I get the same from students as well.

What do you think politicians should do to target the student vote in 2017?

I think it is very much down to someone’s responsibility to want to vote or not. I find that most most of the vocal young politicians and youth wings are focused on ideology and while they have their best intentions at heart, they don’t offer feasible solutions. A change in that mentality would likely see encourage more youth to vote. That being said, I honestly say raise the voting age to 20.

What do you think the outcome of the next election will be?

I think it will come down to whomever Winston Peters and the rest of caucus decide to go with, based on whatever National or a Labour-Green coalition are prepared to offer.

* Did not wish to use full name.


The Lefty

Damon Rusden is 22 years old, and is a third year International Relations, Political Science, and Public Policy student. He has voted in one national election, one local body election, and the flag referendum. Damon is the co-convener of Greens at Vic.

What are your political beliefs and what has influenced those beliefs?

The Green Party and socialism, which draws mostly from growing in a very poor family and seeing various attempts by my parents to escape poverty and not being able too. I also believe in clean renewable sources of energy and want necessary services, like water and electricity, to be more easily accessible to the public.

What policies do you think will be the most important in the next election?

Immigration, a lot of the debate is sadly uninformed and there is a lot to be said there. Also rising inequality, homelessness, and house prices will be on the forefront.

What do you think of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Labour and the Greens?

I think it is beneficial for the Greens. The media has both parties combined polling just behind National and that unity is key for the public. I think there could be more cohesion on transformative policies like power prices (under NZPower), clean rivers, and funding for necessary services.  

Do you think the stereotype of young people and students not being involved and engaged with politics is warranted?

The disengagement with young people is worsening now and you can blame all sorts of reasons as to why young people don’t engage. But it is difficult to reach out to those who don’t care. I would be surprised if the youth vote fell considering that most students want free education policies, which is being reflected in many parties’ policies now. To vote on that alone is a good incentive.

What do you think the outcome of the 2017 election will be?

Not sure, but it will depend on whether New Zealand First support National. I would be very surprised if Winston does. It will also be interesting to see how the MoU works in strategic electorates.


The First Timer

Tu Dinh is 19 years old and is a second year engineering student. The 2017 election will be his first time voting.

Do you follow politics, political issues, or any political party in New Zealand?

Not really, but student fares are important. The latest thing on the news was the flag and I was on the side that wanted to stay.  

Since you came to New Zealand from Vietnam as a kid, do you think there are any similarities between New Zealand politics and Vietnamese politics?

There isn’t much of a voting system in Vietnam, because of Communism. So not really no. There is a lot of corruption, and no one talks about [politics] really. Local stuff is more important than the national stuff. They aren’t controlled by the government as much.

Do you think the stereotype of students being uninterested in politics and not voting is accurate?

Yeah it is. It is not really prioritised as important in their lives. The youth vote is a big number, but there is not really much targeting or engagement. I haven’t heard much about voting and students don’t go out of their way to vote and find out about it.

Do you think you will vote in the 2017 election?

Maybe. I need to still find out more about the parties and the candidates first. Politicians really have to reach out and prove to us why they deserve that vote. So they should try to reach out to more young people.

What do you think the outcome of the next election will be?

I am going to guess that it will be another National term. I don’t think John Key and the National government have much competition. With John Key, I don’t really follow how “bad” he is, but if there is no one else to vote for… He is the lesser of all evils.


The Oldie

Anna Apperley-Dill is 27 years old and is a third year English Literature student. Anna has voted in two national elections and two referendums, but never in a local body election.  

Do you support any NZ political party?

Yes, Greens and Labour, so you can imagine how excited I was when they announced the MoU. Both parties appeal to me for quite a few reasons, however I’m not comfortable claiming that just one party completely represents me. I voted Green last election.

What issues do you think will be important in the next election?

I have always been proud of New Zealand and its incredible health-care system. However I’m concerned that it is deteriorating. I spent over two years within the public mental health system, and these services are absolutely vital. Cutting them puts up barriers and makes life-saving services inaccessible to the majority. As a mature student I’m not only thinking about the health concerns of myself, but also of my parents, and any children I may have in the future.

Do you think your views differ from the rest of the student body?

Maybe. I think some of my more liberal views, on things like LGBT issues, would definitely match with that age group. The only reason I hesitate on that is that when I was that age, I wasn’t all that involved in political issues the way most of us are now. It wasn’t really a priority.

Do you think the stereotype that students are not engaged in politics and don’t vote is accurate?

I don’t think it’s because they’re students, I think it’s because 18-22 year olds have just left home and are getting used to living as an independent person, and on top of that they have to decide their political positions. I don’t blame them for not voting. If politicians want 18-22 year olds to vote, they actually need to find out what this age group cares about and showing them that their vote is worth something.

What do you think the outcome of the next election will be?

I know what I want it to be, but I really can’t speculate. Just not National.


The Undecided

Grace Carroll is 22 years old and a third year Political Science, International Relations, and Philosophy student. Grace has voted in one local and national election and in the flag referendum.

Why were you undecided in the 2014 election?

I found it very difficult. I think I was even undecided when I was standing in the polling booth. It is not through lack of wanting to be involved and not being interested, but I am quite disillusioned with the political scene as it is now.

Do you think you will be undecided in 2017?

Yeah. I think that, although historically my family vote Labour, the current situation with Labour is that there is nothing to pick up on. It is not much of a party where you can see where it is going to go and what they have to offer.

Do you associate yourself with a party, or a belief?

No, it depends on the issue. I can identify with some part of most parties, but of course there are some extreme parties that I can’t relate to at any level. There is a place I sit more comfortably on the political spectrum, probably more on the left.

What do you think are going to be the most important policies for you in the next election?

The housing crisis because from a personal perspective I have been impacted by that, so looking at the private market, state housing, and homelessness. Refugees and immigrants, and employment and education as well. Things like the “hot button issues” will be euthanasia and possibly abortion because it is a prolonging debate that unfortunately hasn’t had the right sort of constructive discussion.

Do you think it is important to vote?

This is the question everyone comes back to—what is the value of the vote? Voting is always forward-looking, it involves taking action. Voting is linked with our sense of who we are and where we are going. Voting affects our self-determination, and is an effective voice generated through participation. I think fundamentally it is important that however we cast our vote we make use of it.

What do you think the outcome of the next election will be?

If the opposition don’t pull their socks up, we are in for another three blue years.


The Protester

Dion Rogers is 21 years old, and is a first year Music and Media student. Dion has never voted in an election or referendum, but tried to once.

Why did you choose not to vote? Was it circumstance or protest?

It was both. The circumstance was I had an essay to do, it was raining, and I couldn’t be bothered switching [my electorate] over. But for protest was that nothing really reached out to me. Nothing was for students. I do lean towards the Greens though.

Do you think it is important to vote though?

I think it is important to vote, but I couldn’t look at one party and say I agreed with 75% of their ideas. It is important for people that will be affected by those changes, but changes I saw didn’t affect me, so I thought “what is the point?”

Is there anything that would get you to vote in the next election?

If a candidate made a decided effort to focus on my demographic it would be something that I would be interested in. Part of it is also exposure, I didn’t even know there was a [local body] election on.

What kind of policies and issues do you think will be important in the next election?

Housing, especially flatting and the rental warrant of fitness. The rental warrant of fitness should be a national standard. It would show us that they care about the student body and just everyone who lives in crap apartments because money is tight. Definitely living wage as well.

What do you think the outcome of the next election will be?

I am going to say that Key is going to win again, and it will just be the same over again. I would love to see a change, but not change for the sake of change.



If there is anything that these interviews hopefully point out, it is that perhaps the stereotypes about students not voting or caring about politics are not true. Everyone I talked to knew their stuff, or wanted to learn, yet almost all of them felt disenfranchised and ignored by the political system.

They seemed to care and engage with politics and voting if they felt they were being treated as an important demographic, like their best interests were being represented, and as adults.

If these interviews are any way to predict the future, the next election will be about housing, education, health, and immigration. We are also probably in for another National term, and good ol’ Winnie P is set to remain as “the Kingmaker.”  

So whether you are left or right wing, new to the political scene, or don’t want to vote at all, the important thing is to make your decisions to engage or not an educated one. The voting process shouldn’t be about feeling insignificant, but about getting involved and making decisions.

I do hope you all go out and vote in 2017 and help change the political landscape of New Zealand.

Or don’t. I’m not your mum.

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