A week ago Hinekia Fitzgerald didn't know any of the people who need her vote ahead of this weekend's local body elections.

Now, thanks to the Herald, many of the men and women seeking to represent her know who she is - and she's getting to know them.

The New Zealand Herald is following the 33-year-old Papakura mum's journey to see if the lifelong Local Body election non-voter will have her say this year.

We have set Fitzgerald and ourselves a challenge.


Can we - through education and exposure - make someone who has never voted care enough to tick the box for the first time?

The mum-of-three told us last week why she's never voted.

She can't relate to any of the candidates and doesn't know how they can help her.

We responded on Friday by asking two elections experts to tell her why her vote matters and how to make sense of those who want it.

Today, the politicians jump on board.

Fitzgerald is a busy working mum and lack of time is another reason she's never voted.

30 Sep, 2016 8:00am
Quick Read

She doesn't have time to meet candidates for a chat, or to attend debates.

'He said my name the best'

So the Herald invited the leading mayoral contenders, along with the three men seeking the two Manurewa-Papakura ward seats and the 13 men and women who want a seat on the Papakura Local Board, to make a video pitch to her.

We showed the footage to Fitzgerald.

She watched intently as the candidates smiled and spoke about family and values and community and why voting matters.

Self-styled anti-corruption campaigner Penny Bright drew a laugh from Fitzgerald, who instinctively arched back as the high-energy mayoral candidate leaned towards the Herald camera and said she was known amongst Maori as a "wahine toa" who was going to "clean up the corrupt corporate control".

"That lady was a bit over the top, that in your face one,", Fitzgerald said later.

While some pitches didn't feel genuine to her, she was impressed by others.

Two of the younger contenders - Manurewa-Papakura ward candidate Daniel Newman and mayoral candidate Chloe Swarbrick - got the thumbs up.

"I liked Daniel Newman the best, and that young lady. He said my name the best. And she's got to be a smart cookie to be there. Look at what she's doing at 22."

They were also the two candidates she recognised before watching the video - she's seen Newman's face on hoardings and was aware of the publicity around Swarbrick's zeitgeist-capturing campaign.

"I did a bit of reading on her and I've followed her on Facebook."

'I have to find my own way in what I like about them'

So did it help in her journey to polling day?

Sort of.

While a couple of the pitches cemented her feelings about certain candidates, face-to-face, or camera-to-face, campaigning isn't really her thing.

Neither is she keen on reading written messages sent to her by some of the candidates following publicity about her journey. She couldn't remember who had messaged her when asked by the Herald.

Her decision whether to vote will be made following careful reading of the brochure included in her voting pack.

"I think for me to want to vote I sort of have to do my own research. It's not them coming to me and saying this sort of stuff. I'll have to fully understand [and] read up on them and find my own way in what I like about them, and I'm going to do that too."

She still thought much of the process was "boring", but her involvement in #WillSheVote? had left an impression.

"I do feel I'm a little bit more interested because of this experience and I will read up more and see what happens."


You can follow Fitzgerald's journey at:
1. Follow lifelong non-voter to local body election polling day
2. Experts share tips for making sense of Local Body elections

Let us know what you think on social media and the hashtag #WillSheVote?

Want to know more about the people who want your vote, and why your vote matters? Auckland Council has a website to help

Live in Auckland, Wellington or Palmerston North? Massey University's research unit Design+Democracy Project developed an online tool helping voters match their values to mayoral candidates via this tool

Fitzgerald's enrolled to vote. Are you? Find out here

The deadline for postal voting is Wednesday, October 5. Ballots can be hand-delivered until midday on Saturday, October 8. Results will be revealed later that day.