PR: Seed Waikato - Millennials turn out in force for political panel

WAIKATO Political Punch, a panel event spearheaded by Seed Waikato to get more millennials engaged in politics, was attended by nearly 100 people.

Political Punch told us that young people are concerned about our future, and want to see our representatives tackle the issues that matter to them, says Chair of Seed Waikato, Gemma Major.

“We often hear the narrative with young people that ‘my vote won’t count’, but 100 per cent of attendees said they will vote in the next election.

“Lack of youth representation in local and central government was discussed, and as a community, we need to advocate and empower young people to put themselves forward.

“At the heart of the event were the six politicians who made it a priority to attend, and we can't thank them enough for saying yes to breaking down barriers between politics and millennials," Ms Major says.

“It was great to see so many Waikato students engaging in politics and asking hard hitting questions on issues that matter to them from mental health to water rights and science and innovation," said Brooke Van Velden, representative from the ACT Party.

Barbara Kuriger, MP for National Party said “I was thrilled to be a part of the event and particularly buoyed by the way the speakers worked together. If we keep up these sort of conversations, democracy will be the better for it.”

“One of the most important aspects of engaging younger voters is ensuring they have the ability to make informed votes. The open dialog with the politicians that we experienced is exactly what we need to ensure we keep our democracy robust and meaningful in the uncertainty of the future,” said Darroch Ball, MP for New Zealand First.

“It’s exciting seeing young people engaged in politics, as politics affects all of us. Our young people are not just our future, they are our present. It’s important that we as politicians engage across the age spectrum in order to connect and collaborate,” said Jamie Strange, MP for Labour.

The numbers in attendance, the questions from the floor, and the robust engagement with our politicians confirmed to me that more than ever millennials want to be engaged in the political direction of our country.
— Holly Bennett, Head of Government Relations

“I love that there are so many passionate, informed young people and that SeedWaikato is connecting them up with politics. Their involvement is essential for the well-being of Aotearoa so I hope they grow the conversations and create more opportunities to be heard,” said Sam Taylor, representative for the Green Party.

“The Opportunities Party Democracy Reset policy is aimed at strengthening our democracy that has eroded over recent decades. Our political system has been captured by vested interests and this is why people are disengaging.  We need to restore the sovereignty of Parliament and hand the power back to the people”, said Donna Pokere-Phillips, representative for The Opportunities Party.

New Zealand’s only Ride Share app provider, UShare, was one of the event sponsors. “It was an absolute pleasure for UShare to partner with Seed Waikato and sponsor the debate. The concern for the future state of the environment was a hot topic at the debate, and UShare is proud to be able to contribute to solving part of this concern for our communities regionally when we launch,” said Founder Ailne Bradley.

 Photo Credit: MHB Photography

Photo Credit: MHB Photography

The University of Waikato proudly hosted and also sponsored the event. Vice-Chancellor Professor Neil Quigley said "It is great to see so many young people becoming actively involved in meaningful conversations and invested in the future of New Zealand. We’re really proud that many Seed members are University of Waikato alumni and students – Seed Waikato does a fantastic job of inspiring and connecting people.”

Another sponsor was Waikato-based government relations firm HSB Government Relations. "The numbers in attendance, the questions from the floor, and the robust engagement with our politicians confirmed to me that more than ever millennials want to be engaged in the political direction of our country," says Director Holly Bennett.

Given the high number of attendees across the entire spectrum of the local community, Seed Waikato is now considering making Political Punch an annual event.

The event was also live streamed on Seed Waikato’s Facebook, with people tuning in from all around the country.

Seed Waikato holds an event every month. Next month’s event Dreamshop: Tautuhi Ano is Seed Waikato’s last for the year. It will be held at Wintec's Atrium on November 10. More details can be found here.