A surge of young women are setting their sights on the local politics scene across the country.

Local body elections are set down for October, and while candidate nominations don't open until July, campaigns are already beginning in districts and cities.

While many incumbent councillors and mayors are vying for another go, there's a cohort ready and waiting to represent their communities in the opposing corner – young women.

In Wellington alone, four women are campaigning for Wellington City Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and Porirua City Council.


Further north, Louise Hutt is campaigning for Hamilton mayor and Hamilton West. There's plenty of others considering it across the country too.

The hopeful candidates all want to see some of the same things: a shake-up and better representation around council tables.

Teri O'Neill and Tamatha Paul are two campaigning for Wellington City Council positions.

O'Neill won the Labour Party's nomination to stand in Wellington's Eastern Ward at 20 years old.

She said her key issues to prioritise were homelessness, the city's transport system and safe and affordable housing.

Paul, 22, launched her campaign to stand as an independent councillor in the Lambton Ward last month.

Paul is currently the Victoria University Student Association's president and said she was ready to start a "youthquake" in the capital.

Tamatha Paul is running for Wellington City Council / Supplied
Tamatha Paul is running for Wellington City Council / Supplied

She said her drive to stand as a candidate was because of the "huge gap between the people that are supposed to be representing us and what we think and care about."


She said that much of Wellington City and the Lambton Ward were made up of young people and students and their voices were not represented.

"I am confident that yes I am young, but I will not need any more help than any other new councillor that goes into that role."

Victoria Rhodes-Carlin is also hoping for a position as a councillor at the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The 21-year-old has one year left of study at Victoria University. Her three core policy focuses were community-driven decision-making, ambitious climate action and fair and accessible public transport.

Victoria Rhodes-Carlin is running for Greater Wellington Regional Council / Supplied
Victoria Rhodes-Carlin is running for Greater Wellington Regional Council / Supplied

She said the council needs a "fresh voice".

"There's a real need for our voices to be heard and for our voices to be valued and our ideas to be contributed to the vision of Wellington,


"This campaign isn't necessarily about me, it's about a movement of young people calling for change ... it's about making our democracy more accessible and more inclusive."

Rabeea Inayatullah is vying for a place on Porirua City Council. The 21-year-old is hoping to bring some diversity to the table being young, a woman, Asian and Muslim.

She's passionate about climate change, the living wage and multiculturalism for the city.

Rabeea Inayatullah is running for Porirua City Council / Supplied
Rabeea Inayatullah is running for Porirua City Council / Supplied

"That lack of youth representation was a huge factor for me running and being a young woman as well ... they are two things that are always under-represented,

"I'm part of an ethnic background that's also under-represented ... If Porirua prides itself on being diverse ... why is there not that voice to represent that ethnicity and that cultural background?"

In Hamilton, Louise Hutt, 26, is aiming her sights for mayor and Hamilton West. Last election, nearly 70 per cent of the city didn't vote. She said the "status quo of politics in Hamilton really isn't working".


"We're a pretty diverse city and it's important we have people from all of those backgrounds represented, or heard, on the council,

"I'm passionate that you can be an advocate or an ally for a community you don't directly represent. But that's not the same as having people who are from those communities representing themselves."

Hutt is also using her platform to help and give advice to others hoping to stand in local elections this year.

Louise Hutt is running for Hamilton Mayor / Supplied
Louise Hutt is running for Hamilton Mayor / Supplied

The women all mentioned politicians who they found inspiring, including Jacinda Ardern and United States' Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Both Paul and Hutt said Chloe Swarbrick were inspirations for them.

Hutt said it "completely blew her mind" when she saw Swarbrick ran for mayor.


"I really appreciated seeing somebody who looked like me and sounded like me and understood what it's like to be a young person living in a city."

Swarbrick said it was fantastic more young people were putting themselves forward for local body politics.

"We know from the research but also I can speak anecdotally, that it is ultimately better for decision-making when we have a diversity of opinions, perspectives and life experiences around the decision-making table."

Andy Asquith, a Massey University local government expert, agreed it was great to see more young people, females and different nationalities wanting to stand.

He said an unfortunate feature of local government was that councillors were "male, pale and stale".

Asquith said it was a massive concern that many young people in New Zealand were still disengaged with local government.


"It'd be interesting to see what campaigning methods young people are using and see how they are trying to connect because the acid test here is – will they get elected?

"If young people don't know what they're voting for and why it's important, they simply won't engage,

"It's good that we have these young role models that are trying to take a stand."