The Destiny Church-affiliated Coalition NZ Party says it has so far encouraged 1700 previously unregistered Far North voters to sign up on the electoral roll.
Party leaders and volunteers were in Kaitaia en masse on Tuesday to promote candidate Jay Hepi's bid for the Far North mayoralty and to get as many people as possible registered to vote ahead of October's local elections.
Mr Hepi, a former gang leader who now works as a whānau co-ordinator for the Tai Tokerau Rugby League set up by Hone Harawira, said 1700 "virgin voters" had enrolled so far on the party's two-week road trip around the Far North.
Their target was 10,000 previously unenrolled voters.
"We're encouraging Māori people, and all people, to register to vote. There's been a slack turnout in previous elections," Mr Hepi said.
"Our team's been flat out because people see hope. Before this it's been the same old, same old. This is the first time in a long time a Māori has stood [for the mayoralty]."
Mr Hepi admitted he had "zero experience" in local government but said he had been involved in political issues for 20 years. If elected his priorities would be housing, health and employment — areas often considered as the realm of central government — and correcting the imbalance of prosperity and opportunities across the Far North.
According to Electoral Commission figures, as of July 31 the Far North District had 43,181 registered voters out of an estimated eligible population of 47,060. That means just under 4000 potential voters weren't enrolled as of last month.
Coalition NZ founder Brian Tamaki called on election authorities to make voting, and enrolling to vote, easier. Mr Hepi had tried three times to enrol but each time his form had been rejected or lost.
It was only when a "top investigative reporter" — understood to be David Fisher of Kerikeri — got involved that they started getting answers.
"There's been no real explanation. I'm not going to point the finger, but don't hinder Māori (from enrolling), help them."
Mana Party founder Hone Harawira, who accompanied Mr Hepi in Kaitaia, said he was there to tautoko (support) his employee.
"We share the same kaupapa," he said.