Younger voters tune in to issues
Baby Kaea was clearly not in a prime minister-cuddling mood when Bill English zoomed in to say hi to him and his parents at Botany mall in Auckland on Sunday.
With a screwed up face, he quickly dived back into dad Tamati Thompson’s arms.
It remains to be seen if the prime minister had more luck with parents Tamati, 26, and university student Lianna Thompson, 23. The young couple are genuine floating voters, tossing up between Labour, National and NZ First.
Meeting English did make a difference, but though they plan to join the flood of people voting before Saturday they are yet to make up their minds - even after meeting the man himself.
Tamati, a crane operator, said English seemed like a really nice bloke. ‘‘He really came out of his way, which made you feel really special.’’
But for them housing is the main issue and it’s the politician with a solution to that who will get their ticks on the ballot.
‘‘It’s so hard in Auckland [to buy] and we are thinking of moving to Gisborne,’’ Tamati said.
They came back to New Zealand from Australia because they wanted Kaea to have the great childhood they had here.
For Tamati, it is about son Kaea as well as future generations.
For both, there is something special about this election.
They feel engaged and involved thanks to the ‘‘how to vote’’ messages and the avalanche of information flowing over online platforms, reaching younger voters.
And that’s when the young mother – from an age group that traditionally has low enrolment and low turnout – brings up the new Labour leader’s name.
‘‘Before, I never knew anything about the campaign, how to vote, elections and stuff,’’ Lianna said.
‘‘Now it is all over social media, Facebook ... like Jacinda Ardern ... she’s really all over (it).
‘‘We didn’t know much about politics before, but because it is so accessible for us, the younger generation, you get more info about it.’’
The statistics of younger voter enrolment are still not flash.
But pundits who assume those in their 20s – like the Thompsons – are still tuned out, might be doing so at their peril.