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August 7, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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We Have Power Campaign

We Have Power, a nationwide student-led campaign, was launched by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Association (NZUSA) on August 7, with the aim of getting every New Zealand student to vote in the upcoming general election.

At least 15 tertiary institutions have agreed to participate in the initiative, with several more expected to join within the next month.

NZUSA will provide training and resources to campus teams based at each institution, although each campus team has control over its on-the-ground execution of the campaign. NZUSA President Jonathan Gee told Salient that this is because “no one-size-fits-all approach has a hope of being successful.”

VUWSA plan to engage VUW students for the campaign by having volunteers operate at all VUW halls of residence and campuses, as well as in the CBD. VUWSA’s initial objective is to inspire political awareness among students through an online campaign, presenting briefly to students before lectures, and having one-on-one conversations, with the ultimate goal of a 100% student turnout for the election on September 23.

VUWSA President, Rory Lenihan-Ikin, told Salient that the campaign is based on “student-to-student engagement in political discussions.”

The campaign “is not endorsing a party or certain politicians, but rather wants to have meaningful conversations with students about why they should be engaging in the political process, regardless of who they end up voting for.”

Gee informed Salient that the campaign was inspired by the significant youth turnout in the last UK general election, as well as the “big organising” model of campaigning used in the recent US presidential primary elections.

New Zealand has seen a low youth voter turnout over the last few electoral cycles, with only 62.73% of enrolled voters aged 18–24 voting in the 2014 general election. Data from the Electoral Commission showed that as of June 30, only 64% of eligible voters in this age bracket are currently enrolled to vote.

Jonathan Gee told Salient that recent international elections, in conjunction with an appreciation of New Zealand’s current political climate, showed that there was a need for greater youth participation in politics.

“The system isn’t working for young people, and while it’s not our responsibility, we can’t wait around for that to change.”

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