Videos encouraging locals to take part in the upcoming Far North District Council elections have been produced for the first time in all three of New Zealand's official languages.
The videos were filmed at locations around the Far North and feature actor Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby and sign language advocate Eddie Hokianga.
It's thought to be the first time a council has made separate election videos in New Zealand sign language, te reo Māori and English.
Council democracy services manager Casey Gannon said the aim was to encourage Far North residents to enrol (step up/tū rangatira mai), get nominated for office (stand up/tū kotahi mai) and vote (speak up/mō te āpōpō).
The videos had a "grassroots, community vibe" and were filmed at Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, the Ahipara waterfront, Kerikeri's new skatepark and Motukauri in North Hokianga.
"The concept was that the wheels of local government keep turning, regardless of the big reforms that are going on. We also wanted it to be educational in terms of what council actually does."
As well as familiar faces such as Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby — best known from ground-breaking dramas Rūrangi and Waru — and Eddie Hokianga, the clips featured Northland's wheelchair basketball team, former pro skateboarder Dave Crabb, the Mules whānau of North Hokianga, kaumātua Kevin Robinson, youth actor River Oszajca and council staff roped in as extras.
The videos were made by Kerikeri film-maker Harley Alexander with council staffer Nicola Griffin the writer and director.
"It was a really big job but I'm personally delighted with how they turned out. At times it felt like we were shooting Lord of the Rings in terms of the scale."
The biggest challenge was making all three videos work despite the different rhythms and flow of each language.
The spoken parts in the te reo version took longer than the English version and the sign language took even longer, so he had to shoot a lot more footage than if he was making just one video.
The filming took six days and the editing three weeks.
"Luckily we had time to make sure all three languages were honoured," Alexander said.
Awhina-Rose Henare Ashby — who also recorded all the voice-overs in te reo and English in a quiet corner of Ahipara School's library — was "fantastic" and Eddie Hokianga was "a total professional".
In another first, new council chief executive Blair King said a 2022 Elections Tour van would travel the district to promote voting and answer questions about the upcoming election.
Taking part in local elections gave voters a say in decisions about core council services such as water, wastewater and roading — as well as the reserves, sporting facilities, playgrounds and libraries that helped create places people wanted to live in.
Local government elections are held every three years.
Nominations will open on July 15 and close on August 12.
Postal ballots will be sent out from mid-September. Voting will close at noon on Saturday, October 8.
Far North election firsts
A promotional video in each of the country's three official languages isn't the only first associated with October's local elections in the Far North. It's also:
■ The first time the Far North District Council will use the proportional Single Transferable Vote (STV) system instead of First Past the Post (FPP). STV is more complicated but it reduces vote-splitting and wasted votes and is said to deliver councils that better represent the population.
■ The first time the Far North will have a dedicated Māori ward. The Ngā Tai o Tokerau Māori ward will have four seats with the remaining six seats split among three general wards.
■ The first time 10 councillors will be elected, up from the current nine.
■ The first time in nine years John Carter won't contest the mayoralty, potentially throwing the race wide open.
■ The first time an Elections Tour van, complete with a mobile ballot box, will visit marae, markets, community events and cafés across the Far North.