TVNZ's first ever Young Voters Debate reveals generational divide over climate change, housing and compulsory te reo

In a neck-and-neck election race many pundits believe will be swayed by the mobilisation of New Zealand's youth vote, TVNZ heard from the the younger generation themselves in the first ever Young Voters Debate.

The topic of learning politics in schools took an interesting turn. Source: 1 NEWS

MPs and candidates from National, Labour, Green Party, Maori Party, ACT, United Future and New Zealand First all gathered at the University of Auckland last night for 90 relatively feisty minutes of debating. 

Perhaps the issue that generated the greatest disagreement between candidates was climate change, with vastly different responses from both National's Chris Bishop and ACT's David Seymour to many of the other candidates.

Mr Bishop was totally dismissive of Labour and the Green's zero carbon target date of 2050.

The National MP said it was one of the most important issues for young people in the coming decades Source: 1 NEWS

"It certainly won't happen by 2050, it might happen by 2100," Bishop said.

"We don't have a stated policy goal of carbon neutrality. Our goal is to meet our international commitments, take climate change seriously, invest in the stuff that actually makes a difference, which is the science around agricultural emissions."  

Chloe Swarbrick from the Greens said New Zealand wasn't doing their bit globally to reduce emissions.

"Emissions have risen 21 per cent under your Government so that's definitely not doing out bit," Swarbrick.


The Green candidate compared inaction on climate change to a faithful relationship but still having Tinder. Source: 1 NEWS

Another predictable issue that generated conflict among the candidates was housing.

To start off the topic mediator Jack Tame asked the candidates who of the seven owned their own home.

Only Nationals Chris Bishop and Labour's Kris Faafoi indicated they did - Mr Faafoi actually only officially becoming a home owner on the day of the debate.

Tame questioned current ACT MP David Seymour how on his parliamentary salary he was not a home owner.

"The fact of the matter is that the housing market is so crazy that in central Auckland on an MP's salary it's actually pretty challenging to," Seymour said.

Mr Seymour said the "red tape and regulation" creating a shortage of land New Zealanders are allowed to build on has caused the unattainable housing prices.

Darroch Ball said the 'broken' mental health system doesn't get help to where it's needed. Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball said the housing crisis was a "simple supply and demand issue" and the record levels of immigration under National are responsible for the housing price hike. 

Labour's Kris Faafoi said his party's plan to build 100,000 homes over the next 10 years would not be hindered by Labour's reduced immigration policy, because there is a special category under the immigration policy to ensure enough skilled workers to start their 100,000 homes project.

Ms Swarbrick said she hasn't given up on the goal of owning her own Auckland home, but young people have become "fatalistic" about their prospects generally in real estate.

Compulsory Te Reo Maori in schools

One other topic that created a bit of tension among the candidates was the possibility of making Te Reo Maori a compulsory subject in New Zealand schools.

David Seymour was of the opinion you "can damage a language though compulsion" because a lack of good quality te reo teachers will end up producing a poor quality product to students.

Maori Party candidate Carrie Stoddart-Smith said that's not true.

"Wales are a really good example of how you do compulsion with an indigenous language. They have re-birthed their language and they now have it on their TV's and they are picking it up because it was compulsory," Smith said.

Labour's Kris Faafoi said he was in favour of te reo becoming compulsory but there weren't enough teachers.