Hui this Sunday Tackles Diversity in Local Democracy


You may think that local elections are boring, confusing or maybe a waste of time, but a lot of important decisions that affect our daily lives are made at the local council level and if your voice isn’t represented then it won’t get heard.


Dr Kirsty Barber from Taurikura NZ says that having elected members that represent different voices and perspectives leads to better outcomes for everyone and she’s on a mission to educate communities why local democracy matters ahead of this year’s local elections in October.

(Listen to the full interview below:)


“Most people don’t understand how decisions at local government can deeply affect our lives. The five pou, which are wai, whare, waka, whānau and whenua are all controlled by the council so we really need to have engaged diverse perspectives,” says Kirsty.

Along with Kawena Jones, Kirsty is co-director of organisation and community consultancy and social enterprise, Taurikura NZ, an organisation focused on increasing cultural competency and sustainability in organisations. Having been shoulder tapped to help increase engagement and diversity at the local elections, Taurikura is running a Hui a Haapori this Sunday at the Raglan Holiday Park Papahua Hui Rooms, 10.30am -1.30pm  with kai provided.

“Come and understand how local democracy works, we’ll feed you and it will be a fun and interactive event,” says Kirsty.

With the recent representation review making some big changes to the wards within the Waikato District and a number of long-standing incumbents standing down, she says these elections are a once in a generation opportunity to shake things up and have a ‘re-energised campaign period.’

“Greater diversity means better outcomes. Currently, there are concentrated voting blocks in smaller rural communities so there’s only one perspective making decisions. So some factors and other perspectives aren’t even considered.”

She says that in the Waikato District, incumbents have often been voted into councils unopposed and they only represent a narrow range of views and people, often the views that reflect their own. It’s ultimately about engagement with your community and if candidates are only engaging with a certain group, then that will be represented in the decisions that are made for that community.

In addition to running waananga around the importance of local democracy, Taurikura NZ also provides support to prospective candidates and campaign supporters heading into the local government space. By providing workshops and mentoring opportunities they arm new candidates with knowledge around things like campaigning and council operations.

“Someone might get elected and it could take 6-18 months trying to learn how things operate so you can’t be effective in that space. If the new candidates are much more informed they can hit the ground running once they are elected.”

Kirsty explains that there are a lot of engaged people in the community but local government can feel isolating and intimidating so it’s important to provide support so they can feel comfortable in these spaces. 

Show Up On Election Day

If there is a candidate that represents your views, it’s also important to show up on voting day to support them.

Recalling back to when Kawena Jones ran in the 2019 elections, she says that while he ran a great campaign and had a good response from people on the ground, the demographic of people he was connecting with simply didn’t vote.

“Certain groups voted a lot and there was low turnout in certain demographics,” says Kirsty adding that, “If the people making decisions for you don’t look like you, act like you, think like you, then they don’t represent you.”

With the addition of the Māori wards in the upcoming elections, some voters will have to choose which electorate to vote in. Kirsty reminds everyone that currently, if you aren’t enrolled in the Māori electorate already, then you won’t be able to sign up until 2024 (MP Rawiri Waititi’s bill to change this is currently being considered in Parliament).

At Sunday’s hui the Electoral Commision team will be available to enrol anyone that hasn’t enrolled to vote and Kirsty encourages the community, especially school leavers, to come and enrol so they are ready to vote come election time - saying the last thing you want to deal with is a special vote on election day.


Hui-a-Haapori Whaingaroa Community Waananga/workshop hosted by Taurikura – having a voice and why it matters in local democracy.


Everyone is welcome this Sunday 19th June!

Time: 1030 – 130pm, kai provided

Venue: Hui Room, Raglan Holiday Park Papahua

Please sign in at reception on arrival


COVID-19 allowed Taurikura NZ to grow their online reach and film a YouTube series of inspirational talks from Māori leaders offering advice about local democracy that you can view below. 

Mana Tangata Mana Maangai