Howick Youth Council candidates’ forum a success

All go at the Botany forum (from left to right), Zachary Wong (moderator), Leane Te Boekhorst (moderator), Naisi Chen, Damien Smith and Christopher Luxon.

With voting set to begin in under two weeks, the Howick Youth Council’s interactive candidate forums have been the first successful community meetings held virtually in the Botany and Pakuranga electorates for the 2020 general election.

The youth-led community forums held last Monday and Tuesday saw more than 4000 combined Facebook views – with candidates taking prepared and audience questions on a wide-ranging set of issues.

These included housing, transport, Covid-19, the climate, enterprise, health/wellbeing, education and the referendum questions of cannabis and assisted dying.

Candidates Naisi Chen (Labour Party), Christopher Luxon (National Party), Damien Smith (ACT Party) appeared at the Botany forum and Simeon Brown (National), Nerissa Henry (Labour Party, through Zoom), Lawrence Xu-Nan (Green Party) appeared at the Pakuranga forum (see links below).

Youth council team lead Leane Te Boekhorst said she was happy with the response from the community and was pleased to facilitate a project which helps east Auckland youth be more engaged about voting.

“We encountered a few technical hitches, but nevertheless we had a great volume of audience questions and engagement from youth and the local community throughout,” said Te Boekhorst.

“Making sure our youth are voting is vital for our future and we hope our forum made it accessible to them.”

Currently, only 61 per cent of young people under the age of 24 are enrolled to vote — down from the same time prior to the 2017 and 2014 general elections (2014: 62.7 per cent; 2017: 69.3 per cent), she said.

The format of the forums was also praised by Newsroom’s co-editor and former editor-in-chief of the NZ Herald, Tim Murphy as “well-organised and structured [in testing] the candidates across the policy spectrum”.

The forums were moderated by Zachary Wong, Danica Loulie-Wijtenburg and Leane Te Boekhorst.

This ‘Recruit Your MP’ project was produced by Team 5 on the Howick Youth Council including Leane Te Boekhorst, .

“The Howick Youth Council would also like to specially acknowledge Ormiston Senior College for assisting in providing their auditorium for the evenings,” said Te Boekhorst.

  • The forums can be watched at the following links:
    Botany forum:
    Pakuranga forum (dropped frames due to a connectivity issue outside of our provider’s control):
  • Special thanks to live-streaming provider NUNC for supporting the event. Learn more about them at