Government and voting
Te kāwanatanga me te pōti

Civics and politics newbie? Learn the basics on getting (more) involved.

You have a say in where the country is headed. Cast your vote, contact an MP or start a petition, it's all within your reach and part of your rights while living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Make sure you know who to vote for and how the voting system works.

Video transcript available for Having your say Open Close
On camera: Two friends, Alex and Sam, walk across the grassy area of a city square.

Funky pop music softly playing.

Alex to camera: The cool thing about living in a democracy is that everyone gets to have their say. The representatives we choose to elect can shape how our whole country runs, so it's an important subject to think about.

On camera: Alex turns to look at Sam.

Sam to camera: The government is a building called the Beehive. It's where the Prime Minister sleeps at night and also where you can post complaints about public transport.

Music stops abruptly.

On camera: Alex gives an awkward smile, his lips pressed together.

Alex to camera: That is... incorrect.

Sam to camera: The government is a place where... um...

On camera: Sam leans in to Alex's ear and whispers rapidly to him. Sam whispers back and gives a reassuring smile to the camera. Now Sam and Alex sit at a table in a trendy cafe with boxes of burgers and fries and glasses of juice in front of them.

Background cafe noises and ambient music.

Alex to Sam: Ok, so this is Parliament, our law making system in Aotearoa and it’s divided into two parts.

On camera: Alex grabs a handful of his potato fries and a handful of Sam's kumara fries and places them on the wooden table.

Alex to Sam: House of Representatives...

On camera: Alex puts his burger on the table above the fries.

Alex to Sam: And Head of State, which is the sovereign, like a King or Queen. So, it's Parliament's job to make laws and represent the people of our country.

Sam to Alex: How do they do that?

On camera: Alex moves his burger box to the side.

Alex to Sam: Well, you need a government. A government is a group of Members of Parliament that hold confidence in the majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

On camera: Alex separates the potato fries from the kumara fries.

Alex to Sam: A majority can be made up of one party or a group of parties. When it's a group, it's called a coalition.

On camera: Alex moves the kumara fries to sit next to the potato fries.

Alex to Sam: There's 120 seats in Parliament, and several seats are reserved for Māori. And Māori have the option of enrolling in a separate electoral roll to vote for candidates in these seats.

Sam to Alex: So, how do they make laws? Does the burger king decide?

On camera: Sam points to Alex's burger.

Alex to Sam: Nope. Before a law goes through Parliament, it’s called a bill.

On camera: Alex holds up a ketchup packet and places it next to the pile of fries.

Alex to Sam: Then there’s a series of formal stages before they are become finalised and become a law. New laws are called Acts of Parliament.

On camera: Alex thumps his fist on the ketchup packet, causing sauce to burst out.

Sam to Alex: So all these small fries form the giant potato of democracy.

Alex turns to the camera: Yup. So it's pretty much people like us making big decisions for our country. That's why it's important to pay attention to our representatives and stay involved in the decisions that they're making. There's more information about government and voting on the website.

On camera: Alex smiles.

Music stops abruptly.

On camera: Holding her glass of juice, Sam looks at the burger, fries and ketchup on the table.

Sam to Alex: How often do you reckon they clean these tables?

On camera: Alex purses his lips awkwardly.

Energetic pop music

On screen: The logo of the School Leavers’ Toolkit in the middle of the screen with a link to their website.

Text on screen: School Leavers' Toolkit logo and school-leavers-toolkit.education.govt.nz