Actor and comedian Oscar Kightley is urging people to enrol to vote at this year's local body elections, after the last election saw less than half of the population turn out to vote.
Today is the last day you can post your papers to enrol for the upcoming local body elections. After that, special voting can be arranged through your local council on October 11, the day before voting ends.
Kightley told TVNZ1's Breakfast he's passionate about the local body elections because he "understands now how voting is a real privilege".
He went on to say: "When you think about it, it's our local body stuff that impacts our lives every day, like you'll soon notice if the rubbish isn't taken; you'll soon notice if it's a really kaka playground; you'll soon notice if there's way more lights in Remuera than there are in Manurewa, so these things impact us every day," he said.
He added that it was important to vote in order to be properly represented in your council's decision-making process.
"Then you also get this misrepresentation where you get most of the decisions that are fed us made by a smaller section of the population.
"Let's just look at Auckland – Māori, Pasifika and Asian make up 50 per cent of the population, but turnouts are way low, so their decisions about their lives are being made by others."
He said there are "lots of reasons" why Kiwis aren't voting, including "a combination of apathy, not knowing the issues, not knowing the people, maybe not getting engaged but also a feeling of disconnection because maybe of the way your community came to this country or was treated by this country, but actually, it's so important.”
"The more people that vote, the greater the chance is to get really good representation."
Kightley went on to stress the importance of voting to have your voices be heard, rather than complaining after decisions have been made.
"We complain about public transport – it's the councils that make these decisions. We complain about rubbish collection, we complain when you can't go to the beach after a rainy day because of the storm water drain and how that's failed – that's the council stuff. That's where we can actually - instead of just going, 'Oh, it's the bloody council' - actually get involved.
He said he believes a "cultural shift" in New Zealand is needed around our engagement in local body politics.
"Maybe it's the motivated minority that vote, but I think we require a cultural shift in this country.
"I think 16-year-olds should be able to vote. I think we should practice voting. I reckon if you get young people voting, then maybe their parents who have never voted will also be encouraged."