The McGuinness Institute is non-partisan but we do have a strong interest in democracy and in having all New Zealanders (especially young New Zealanders) engaged with the political process and sharing their thoughts. For this reason, with the General Election only three weeks away on Saturday 23 September we thought it was time to share a number of initiatives we have been a part of under Project CivicsNZ over the past few weeks designed to encourage all New Zealander’s to enrol and vote.
- On the Fence: The Institute has been supporting and working with Massey University-led Design + Democracy to encourage engagement with social issues through user-centred design. In particular, by contributing to the development and promotion of the online platform On the Fence, an idea developed by Kieran Stowers, who was a participant at the Institute’s 2012 EmpowerNZ workshop. On the Fence is a tool that matches users’ personal values with parties and candidates and is targeted at first time or disengaged voters. Since its launch on 23 August 2017, the website has had over 130,000 visits.
- Political Cuts: Between 1 and 5 September, the non-partisan initiative Political Cuts occupied an unused retail space on Wakefield St in Wellington to offer free haircuts and cheap coffee in order to engage young and/or disengaged people in political discussion. The initiative was a collaboration between Barbarian Productions and Jason Muir (Cirque and Haight Ashbury) and was designed to create a space for political thought through providing personal services.
- #GummonMateVote: #GummonMateVote is an online initiative with the goal of improving voter turnout among Pasifika youth in the upcoming election. The initiative is in collaboration with Elaina Lauaki-Vea, Florence Malama, Kylah Williams and the Holy Family School whose hard work has seen the Facebook and Twitter pages gaining traction. Since its launch on 11 August, creative and original images and videos have been uploaded to the websites each day to raise awareness of and emphasize the importance of voting. A special thank you to all who have contributed to the initiative and helped keep the movement alive. Below is the video sent in from the music group Resonate wearing their #GummonMateVote t-shirts.
Later this year the Institute will publish two papers, Working Paper 2017/11 – Civics and Citizenship Education in New Zealand Schools and Think Piece 27 – Civics and Citizenship Education in New Zealand: A case for change?, both co-authored by Institute patron Todd Krieble and Master of Public Policy student Danijela Tavich. These papers explore the second recommendation of the Constitutional Advisory Panel: that the government ‘develops a national strategy for civics and citizenship education in schools and in the community, including the unique role of the Treaty of Waitangi, te Tiriti o Waitangi, and assign responsibility for the implementation of the strategy’ (see below for more information). Research for the papers included a two-hour evening workshop to explore the idea of a civics strategy in New Zealand, run by Todd and Danijela for a diverse group of forty individuals at the Institute. The discussions that took place around the current state of civics and citizenship education and recommendations for improvements have fed into the two papers. The papers also follow on from the Institute’s 2016 article in Policy Quarterly titled ‘Cīvitās: aligning technological and sociological transformation’ (Wendy McGuinness and Sally Hett). we also plan prepare a submission on Constitution Aotearoa, drawing on Todd and Danijela’s work and engaging with our networks for additional input.
Project CivicsNZ aims to contribute to the conversation on building the social capital and empowerment of New Zealand citizens. To stay up to date with the project, visit our website.