Seed Waikato is a movement with a dream to see young people thrive. Led by young people for young people, our aim is to empower youth to connect, contribute and grow. Since launching in 2017, we have developed innovative events, workshops and online education, all focused on strengthening the wellbeing and resilience of young people, and improving community connectedness.
We know young people are interested in political affairs and issues, but this currently isn’t reflected in how we’re represented in decision-making in Council, and in voter turnout. There are no incumbent Councillors in the Waikato Region who are aged under 35, even though 22% of Waikato residents are aged 18-35. Voter turnout is low across the country, and young people get a bad rap for contributing to that statistic. This is evidenced in the voter enrolment rate across Hamilton City, which is just 51.12% amongst 18-24 year olds.
Our aspiration is to increase youth engagement in local politics, ensuring we have a seat at the table, and youth issues and perspectives included in Council discussions and decision-making. We value diversity and inclusion, and want to see Councils’ representative of the communities they are serving.
In May 2019, we launched a survey to understand what the barriers were for youth participating in local politics. We heard from 283 young people across the Waikato, and now know that the biggest barrier is lack of education and awareness.
Over the coming months, we’re running digital education and awareness campaigns to demystify local politics, debunking the big, complex, and confusing world of voting and elections for our community.
But we know we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’ve teamed up with ElectionsNZ, Hamilton Young Professionals, National Council of Women – Hamilton Branch, NZUSA, Politics in the Tron, Shama, University of Waikato, YWCA Hamilton, Waikato Pacific Youth Network, Waikato Queer Youth and Waikato Students Union to host ‘Let’s give a sh*t about local politics’ on August 6th at 5.45pm at the Playhouse Theatre, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts. We’re breaking down everything young people need to know about enrolling, local government and voting. Plus we’re hosting all candidates running for Councils’ across the region under the age of 35, giving youth an opportunity to ask them questions.
We’re also supporting other candidate events, as we push for the collective goal of more active engagement and a stronger democracy in our governing authorities.