Younger vot­ers tune in to is­sues

Waikato Times - - NEWS - VER­NON SMALL

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.

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