The number of Maori enrolled to vote in the Waiariki area has risen, but work is still being done to encourage more to have their say.
According to the Electoral Commission, there are 33,919 enrolled voters in the Waiariki electorate - an increase of 216 people since May. There are no figures to show how many are eligible for the Waiariki electorate as voters can either choose to be on the Rotorua or Waiariki rolls. Social media campaigns, school visits and Electoral Commission field officers have been knocking on doors in a bid to find or enrol eligible voters.
A combined effort is being made to try to improve 2011's low voter turnout of 19,900 - 60 per cent of Waiariki voters compared with the Rotorua general roll of 32,097 - 74.8 per cent - from 42,886 enrolled voters.
Richard Marshall from the Rotorua Registrar of Electors said they've particularly been encouraging the younger generation to enrol. "We are targeting the 18-24 age group from all different rolls, been visiting high schools to encourage them to vote, give them information on how to enrol, generally speak at their assembly or whatever works for the schools," Mr Marshall said. "We also keep an eye out for events around the community. Our field workers have been outside The Warehouse, at City Focus, Waiariki Institute of Technology and also go door knocking. It's a constant thing we do throughout the year, send them out to an address trying to locate people."
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A group called Vote Maori Vote was set up earlier this year urging Waiariki Maori to be counted. Spokeswoman Charlene Hicks said they mainly engaged with people on Facebook, answering questions on how to enrol and how to vote from overseas.
"A lot of our young ones, in their early 20s, didn't realise they needed to make contact with the electoral office, a lot of them are transient so we've been able to help them update their details and get them confirmed on the electorate roll."
"I think ultimately it lies in the hands of the whanau, whanau talking to each other and encouraging them to vote. Even for myself, my 24-old-son and his 23-year-old girlfriend and two children came to visit me and I said to them, 'Oh by the way, you two enrolled yet?'
"I was able to look up to see if they were both on the roll and they weren't. We immediately filled out the forms, got them to sign it off, started to talk about what each of the parties offered. I took it for granted my children had been enrolled."
Moerangi Vercoe is one Maori young person who can't wait to be eligible to vote. The 17-year-old Rotorua Girls' High School head girl will miss out in September but is looking forward to the next election to cast her say. She will be eligible in March next year. "It's one of the main reasons I'm looking forward to turning 18," she said. "Just having a say in government. I was brought up in politics with my dad [the late Rotorua District Council Te Arawa Standing Committee member, Hawea Vercoe] and it's given me a passion for it as well."
Moerangi said her friends who have turned 18 were enrolled and ready to make their vote count. "It think it's so important, we are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow but have the least say in government. Our ancestors fought so hard for us to vote and even nowadays there are countries that don't allow voting so we take it for granted."