Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane residents will vote to decide the mayors, councillors and community board members in just six months' time - with hopes a campaign encouraging voting will result in a higher turnout.

The three-yearly local authority elections will take place on October 8.

Just 43, 48 and 49 per cent of Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane residents respectively voted in the 2013 local elections, a decrease from the 2010 turnout - but still higher than the national average of 41 per cent.

Participation in local elections has been falling nationwide since the 1980s, which prompted Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) to launch a campaign to lift turnout to above 50 per cent.


The company conducting the Rotorua Lakes Council election,, said the "Vote 16" campaign would hopefully result in a higher and more representative turnout.

"It's a very good idea - it has a good shot at succeeding," chief electoral officer Warwick Lampp said.

In the 2013 elections, the main reasons people gave for not voting were not knowing enough about the candidates (31 per cent), they forgot or left it too late (24 per cent), or they were not interested or were too busy (14 per cent).

Chairwoman of the recent Rotorua Lakes Council "Your Choice" representation review, councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, said she hoped the recent review and the new campaign could push Rotorua over the 50 per cent mark.

"I think there is a growing awareness, particularly by ratepayers, that local authorities are now big business and they want to see their council run efficiently and making wise spending decisions. This on its own is reason enough for citizens to get out and vote.

"But younger voters are wanting more information now about what exactly a council does. And I suspect if they have the opportunity to vote online they may well swell the numbers," she said. "This has been a full-on triennium so I think we may well see an increase in turnout. But, as the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but as to the drinking, that's another matter altogether."

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LGNZ president Lawrence Yule said the Vote 16 target was a "stretch", but he hoped the campaign could convince people to take part in shaping their community.

"Their ability to vote can make a difference in what happens in their neighbourhood, and how their city, district or region is led," Mr Yule said. "It takes a small amount of your time. Get to know some of the policies and candidates and exercise your vote. Some countries don't have this luxury."

Voter turnout rates - 2010 and 2013:

* Rotorua District: 43% (2010) and 43% (2013)

* Taupo District: 55% (2010) and 48% (2013)

* Whakatane District: 56% (2010) and 49% (2013)

* New Zealand: 49% (2010) and 41% (2013)

Source: Local Government New Zealand