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To: PM Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins

Introduce robust citizenship education in schools and lower the voting age to 16

Introduce robust citizenship education in schools and lower the voting age to 16

To help ensure we have a flourishing democracy where all young people participate, we need to introduce robust citizenship education in all secondary schools and lower the voting age to 16.

Why is this important?

We believe young people have amazing ideas, creative thinking and energy to offer our country, but they are being locked out of a political process and system that is not set up to engage, inform or inspire them to participate fully and that is why so many young people don't vote.

There is a lot of research as to why this happens. Young people don't identify with the left-right political spectrum; they care for issues but not party politics. They have aspirations for a different type of politics, one that feels more values-based and authentic. They feel doubtful that the current political system can deliver the kinds of change they want to see. Their time, energy and money are tight, so they don't always feel confident they have all the information they need to make a meaningful contribution to politics.

The young people least likely to vote are of Māori, Pasifika or Asian descent. Recent migrants are less likely to vote than long-term migrants, as are young people who live in rural areas, or are low paid or have only a basic education.

In short, if you are part of a group that is already marginalised in our society and economy, you're likely to be marginalised in our democracy too.

This cannot be fixed with simple get-out-the-vote tactics and brilliant one-liners. To shift this, it requires government-led commitment, investment and a strategy.

We are calling for the New Zealand government to implement universal and robust citizenship education in schools. The programme should focus on fostering agency, critical thinking and teaching the power of social movements and activism, alongside parliamentary politics.

We need to work out how to cater for teacher bias and undue influence, but that can be done.

As well as this, we are also calling for the government to lower the voting age to 16. This would signal to young people we take them seriously and care about their views. It starts the voting habit early and would challenge political parties to aim their campaigns and policies at the new generation. The age was permanently changed to 16 in Scotland, after 75 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds turned out to vote in the 2014 referendum to leave the United Kingdom.

We know there is no silver bullet to youth participation in politics, but these two interventions will go a really long way toward creating a democracy that represents and involves everyone. Please sign and share today.


RockEnrol is dedicated to engaging, inspiring, informing and activating the political power of rangatahi (young people) in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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How it will be delivered

We will deliver the petition on Parliament lawn once we reach 5000 signatures.

Reasons for signing

  • If the government doesn't allow young people to vote, then the youth will continue to not have their needs met. After all, the whole premise of democracy is based on the idea that a ruler will ignore what a person needs unless that person has the ability to hold the ruler accountable.
  • I signed up because I believe that a Civics Education would be a grand idea because the youth would become educated on why voting is important in a democratic country. They would also learn about democracy etc whatever's included in the civics subject. I also believe lowering the voting age would be beneficial as, a larger percentage of youth voters would be included in elections.
  • I'm 17 and I have no idea how to vote when it's my turn. We should have the opportunity to learn


2017-03-09 20:51:23 +1300

100 signatures reached

2017-03-08 10:23:22 +1300

50 signatures reached

2017-03-07 19:19:31 +1300

25 signatures reached

2017-03-07 16:16:47 +1300

10 signatures reached