The idea of lowering the voting age to 16 has been raised this week - but it does not seem to be something Tauranga teenagers agree with.

The idea was raised by Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft at a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday morning. He said one of his biggest concerns was that children's voices were not heard.

"You cannot say children are just another interest group, because they are the only group without a voice," Becroft said.

Voter turnout showed young people were the least engaged in New Zealand's democratic process and New Zealand needed to do better as a country, he said.


However, it seems Tauranga teenagers say 16 is not mature enough to vote and most do not fully understand politics.

Tauranga 16-year-old Mahnia Taylor said she and her peers had strong political views but they were mostly based on what their parents told them or what they got taught at school.

"Not many youths actually do their own research to educate themselves in what they really want to know, instead they just take someone else's opinion as their own to sound knowledgeable," Taylor said.

"I would love to be able to vote but then looking at the rest of my generation I feel as though it may be safe to keep the voting age as it is," she said.

Tauranga 17-year-old Ethan Cook said he believed at 16 and 17 an individual's brain was too young to understand the logistics of politics.

"We are still trying to process all of these other things, chucking politics on the load is just not going to help," Cook said.

"I don't get involved in politics as it just doesn't appeal to me but I feel that understanding some of the policies that government propose are pretty complicated for my young brain," he said.

Tauranga and Bay of Plenty MPs have mixed views on the idea.


Papamoa-based Labour MP Angie Warren-Clark said she believed it was important for youth to have a voice in decision making but she was unsure how many youths would be that interested in politics.

"We have a lot of younger members who are not eligible for voting, but who are young Labour members, who would really advocate for being able to vote early, they're passionate, engaged and wanting to participate at that level," Warren-Clark said.

"Then we have this huge group of people who just really don't see the point in voting. I would be really interested to know and to test the idea with constituents in the community and ask what they think."

Tauranga-based Labour MP Jan Tinetti said she was also keen to test the idea with constituents.

"Having been an educator for a number of years I believe lowering the voting age to 16 should be investigated and I'm keen to test this idea with constituents," Tinetti said.

She said the Government supported civic education in schools as a way of engaging young people in democracy and encouraging them to have a voice in decision making.

However, New Zealand First list MP Clayton Mitchell did not think lowering the age to 16 was a good move.

"At 18 people seem to have a bit more of a sense of consequence and action-skewed outcomes, 16 is too young to make those kinds of decisions," Mitchell said.

National leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said National believed the current voting age was right and its policy was to keep it at 18.

Todd Muller, National MP for Bay of Plenty, strongly supported the status quo.

"I don't think it's necessary, I'm of the opinion 16 is too young," he said.

Muller said at 18 people had left secondary school, some were going to university and many would be leaving home for the first time.

"I strongly think 18 is a good age, people have a sufficient level of experience and maturity."