Iranian Maryam Ghouzivand has a message for Northlanders - treat voting seriously and head down to a polling booth to have your say.

The 36-year-old from Whangarei will vote in New Zealand for the first time despite limited knowledge of the electoral process and the policies of political parties.

She joined her husband, who has lived in New Zealand for 28 years but is also from Iran, in November 2014 and found work this month after studying English.

In Iran where general elections are held every four years, she said people took voting seriously and nearly everyone eligible to vote exercised their democratic right to retain or change the government.


While she did not know much about Kiwis' attitude to voting, Ms Ghouzivand said they must go out and vote in order to have a say in how the country was run.

"People in Iran call their country their mother who gives you food and looks after you. In return, you must vote. Act and react which means if you don't vote, you can't react to what's happening in terms of governance," she said.

Another analogy she gave of the importance of voting was she likened New Zealand as a country to a boat.

"We all are in that boat and if it's sinking in the sense if you don't vote and policies don't go your way in future, you can't say it's not an issue for me.

"I am still learning the voting system here through brochures, my husband and generally talking to people and will continue doing that over the week," she said.

Unlike in New Zealand where eligible voters must register to vote, she said people presented their birth certificates which are stamped at polling booths in Iran before they could vote.

Ms Ghouzivand started work as a volunteer at English Language Partners (ELP) Northland four months ago and accepted the role of administrator this month.

ELP New Zealand centre manager for Northland, Megan Cochrane, said Ms Ghouzivand worked to improve her English by doing courses, including one in professional speaking to build her confidence in interacting with people.

Last week, she said an Electoral Commission staff gave a presentation on the voting process to 16 migrants who learnt English at ELP Northland.