Discussions and debates focused on an election issue or policy area.

Leaders of minor parties debate election issues

Second minor parties leaders debate Morning Report Sept

This is the second Radio New Zealand election debate with leaders of the minor parties.

Joining host Guyon Espiner (left) in the Morning Report Auckland studio are (left to right) the Mana leader, Hone Harawira, the Act party's Jamie Whyte, the Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and the Maori Party's Te Ururoa Flavell. In the Wellington studio are the co-leader of the Greens' Russel Norman and the leader of United Future, Peter Dunne.

Politics, the young and the restless

This hour is dedicated to debate among the younger candidates from the main parties other than Maori and New Zealand First. The candidates include: Dasha Kovalenko from ACT; Jack McDonald from the Greens; Heleyni Pratley of Internet-Mana; Arena Williams from Labour; National's Todd Barclay, and; James Maxwell of United Future.

Insight for 7 September 2014 - Sparking the Youth Vote

Young People Not Answering Call to Vote

by Megan Whelan and Elle Hunt

Despite high-profile attempts to get people under 30 out to vote - by not-for-profit organisations, app developers, the Electoral Commission and Lorde - nearly 200,000 are still not enrolled, two weeks out from the September 20 election.

Insight explores why so many young voters have yet to enrol  and if they will turn out to vote.


Listen to Insight - Sparking the Youth Vote

The chief executive of the Electoral Commission, Robert Peden, said nearly 190,000 people under 30 were yet to enrol to vote.

They can enrol up until September 19, but it is unlikely that many of that number will take the opportunity.

Less than half of people aged between 18 and 29 who were eligible to vote in the 2011 election did so, compared to just over 70 percent of people over 30.

In The Wireless and Colmar Brunton’s survey of 16 to 30 year-olds last year, 82 percent said they were planning to vote in this year’s election.

15 percent said they were not, and 3 percent were at that point undecided.  

Young people in an audience at an election debate organised by Auckland  youth community leaders

An election debate organised by Auckland community youth leaders Photo: RNZ / Lena Hesselgrave

But what is often chalked up to the apathy, laziness or self-interest of the so-called ‘millennial generation’ appears to have its roots in bigger issues, such as job insecurity and barriers to home ownership.

Dr Bronwyn Hayward, a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Canterbury, says there are a number of reasons why younger generations do not vote and feel shut out of the democratic process more broadly.

“We use the shorthand apathy, but actually none of our research is really showing it’s apathy. There are really serious issues about unemployment, a lack of income, about the inability to read - these are really basic issues that affect people’s ability to vote and their confidence to vote. … that ability to feel like ‘I can have a say, and when I vote it will make a difference’.”

Rawinia Thompson, 19, of Victoria University's Wellington Students’ Association said although she was excited to vote in her first election, she knew most of her peers did not share her enthusiasm.

“I think young people feel very disempowered … They know that decision makers don’t have their interests at heart, and I think low voter turnout amongst young people actually only fuels that even more. I think young people could actually be a considerable force come this election if they turn out to vote. The reasons that they’re not, I think, is they don’t feel a sense of efficacy … they don’t feel like they can change their situations, or government initiatives or priorities.”

UNICEF New Zealand Youth Ambassador Ruby Sands, 19, said her generation is cynical about politicians’ motives, and said it was hard to find balanced, non-partisan information about different parties’ policies.

“A lot of young people that I talk to aren't engaged by pre-election promises. They've seen these broken and they've heard their parents moaning about them and a lot of young people have trouble accessing information around politics. A lot of what's out there is very biased or put out by parties, rather than unbiased information that's broken down in a way that's easy to access.”

Laura O’Connell Rapira, the campaign director for Rock Enrol

Laura O’Connell Rapira, the campaign director for Rock Enrol Photo: Supplied

Laura O’Connell Rapira, the campaign director for Rock Enrol, an organisation set up to encourage young people to vote in the election through gigs and events, says the political process can be mystifying, and many do not feel like they know enough about it to make an informed vote.

“People don’t like to feel dumb, which is totally fair enough … It’s only because I’ve decided to engage in that process that I have been finding out more and more and realising how important it is to be heard.”

A number of initiatives, many of them digital, have been set up to engage and educate young people in the lead-up to the election. A Tinder-style app where users are asked to swipe left or right on parties’ policies launched last month, after having received $10,000 in funding from entrepreneur Derek Handley.

Massey University student Meg Howie devised Ask Away, a website where people can pose questions directly to politicians, to make politics feel more like a conversation than a campaign. “If you can see that parties actually do care what people have to say and are responding directly to them then that’s a really positive thing and a really good message to be sending to young people.”

Another Massey University project, On The Fence, shows people where they stand on important issues in relation to political parties’ policies. Student Kieran Stowers said just under 100,000 people had used the tool since it launched last month, and the issues stoking the most interest were social and income inequality, health, education and the environment.

But despite the drive for the youth vote, academics do not expect a huge uptick in voter turn-out this election, chalking it up to a global trend that will take time to reverse.

Jennifer Curtin, a lecturer in political studies at Auckland University, said political parties need to engage young people in more meaningful ways than simply appealing for their vote once every three years.

“Young people as candidates, even though it’s symbolic representation in some ways … are more likely to voice young people’s concerns than older people, and so the more older people we elect, the more bias there is against young people in terms of the suite of policy choices and issues that get talked about in Parliament.”

Dr Hayward says young people have been instrumental in the last three US Presidential elections, and so political parties are courting them in this election.

But she says politicians have to present young people with a vision of the future that’s worth voting for – and many seem to currently be of the mind that no party is offering them that.

A group of young people look up at photographer on stairs at Auckland's University Business School

Lobby group, Gen Zero, trying to work out how to make climate change action go viral Photo: Levi Brinsdon-Hall II

Insight: The Big Election Issues

Insight: The Realities of Auckland

Visit the Radio New Zealand Election Page

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Analysts dissect second leaders debate

Joining us to discuss the two leaders' performance are Associate Professor Wayne Hope from the School of Communication Studies at the Auckland University of Technology and a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Canterbury, Bronwyn Hayward.

Political editor analyses debate performances

Brent Edwards, Political Editor

Brent Edwards, Political Editor Photo: RNZ

Radio New Zealand's political editor Brent Edwards is with us now from Christchurch.


Political leaders go head to head for second election debate

Chris Bramwell

Chris Bramwell Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The National Party leader John Key has promised to announce more details of tax cuts for low and middle income earners next week. Chris Bramwell reports on the Press leaders debate.

Six minor, minor parties have their say

There are 6 very minor parties contesting the party vote in this month's general elections - and the chances are you may not have heard of them.

National and Labour Education spokespeople debate the issues

Chris Hipkins Labour Party Hekia Parata National Party education spokespeople

Kathryn Ryan is joined by Labour's spokesperson on education Chris Hipkins and National's spokesperson on education Hekia Parata.

Insight for 31 August 2014 - The Realities of Auckland

A leading provider of emergency housing in Auckland says demand from homeless families is becoming overwhelming.

Monte Cecilia Trust helps families living in overcrowded houses, garages, caravan parks and boarding houses.

Sandra in her room at Monte Cecilia Housing Trust's emergency accommodation

Sandra at Monte Cecilia Housing Trust's emergency accommodation in Mangere Photo: RNZ / Karen Mangnall

Listen to more on Insight ( 29 min 40 sec )

Chief executive David Zussman said the trust moved a record 57 families from emergency accommodation into Housing New Zealand homes last year.

But he said the trust is seeing more homeless families who cannot afford private rents, but whose income is too high to qualify for state help. Mr Zussman said the call for housing is unending and sometimes overwhelming.

"It's referred to as the hidden homeless - basically living in garages, the overcrowded houses, boarding houses, caravan parks - and a lot of these people just have nowhere else to go."

Mr Zussman said demand was getting higher and higher. "There were always families that were homeless and in quite desperate situations, but there is definitely more of them, and the solutions we are able to offer seem to be decreasing.

"Quite simply there's a lack of supply."

New housing under construction at Hobsonville Point in Auckland

New housing at Hobsonville Point in Auckland Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

Government at a loss - Salvation Army

Meanwhile, a social justice campaigner said the Government is at a loss when it comes to Auckland's problems.

The Government spends an estimated $2 billion a year in Auckland, mainly on education, health, welfare and housing.

But Salvation Army social policy analyst Alan Johnson said overcrowding, poverty and inequality were not being resolved.

He said the money spent was just acting as a Band Aid.

"I think this Government is acutely aware of the challenges in Auckland and I they are also very aware of the challenges in South Auckland.

"I just don't think that they or their officials have a clue on how to address those problems."

Mr Johnson said a lack of affordable and social housing was the biggest contributor to inequality in Auckland, and the Government had not done enough to fix that.

Maori want to work with government

The board set up to represent Maori in Auckland wants to forge closer ties with the incoming Government.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board was created as part of the 2010 amalgamation of Auckland's local bodies, and its members sit on most committees of Auckland Council.

Chairperson David Taipari said Maori in Auckland are facing big issues, and as well as its ties to the council, the board wants more direct contact with the Government.

"Clearly we want to be meeting with ministers in the new government and then trying to facilitate a plan together and how that will filter down through the departments out to the people on the street.

"And we're wanting results."

Call for government schemes for jobless youth

With about 22,000 young Aucklanders not in employment, education or training, there's a call for more government help for companies to employ unemployed young people.

Auckland Council's education trust, Comet, says employers do want to employ young people. But chief executive Susan Warren said most small or medium enterprises cannot afford to support them while they are learning the job.

"What would help is actually to have more funding from welfare.

"Things like Taskforce Green that enable young people to move into jobs and to be partly supported as if they were still on unemployment until they're fully productive in their work."


Who won the debate?

The two men who would be Prime Minister went head-to-head for the first time on live television on Thursday 28 August.

Joining Guyon Espiner during Morning Report, Steven Joyce and Grant Robinson comment on their respective leader’s performances, and media commentators Associate Prof. Wayne Hope from AUT, and Prof. Claire Robinson from Massey University provide some analysis of the debate.

Leaders of minor parties debate election issues

A special election debate with leaders of the minor parties.

Participants: Winston Peters, Metiria Turei, Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira. Hosted by Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson during Morning Report.

Election Issues debate: Economy

David Parker and Bill English RNZ

Photos: RNZ.

The Labour Party finance spokesman David Parker and the National Party's finance spokesman Bill English join Kathryn Ryan to discuss the economy, and their party's plans and policies for it.

Insight for 24 August 2014 -The Big Election Issues.

By John Gerritsen, Education Correspondent, Karen Brown, Health Correspondent and Patrick O'Meara, Economics Correspondent

Poverty, inequality and incomes are big issue topics for voters in the forthcoming election. Insight reports on tackling the health, education and income gap.

Poverty, inequality and incomes are big issue topics for voters in the forthcoming election. Insight reports on tackling the health, education and income gap.


Radio New Zealand's education, health and economics correspondents asked leaders in their sectors what they think should be done to tackle these problems.

Education is an area with clear gaps between rich and poor and there is a general acceptance among teachers and principals that schools in poorer areas need more government funding than those in richer areas.

Less clear however, is their agreement on the education policies currently on offer from the various political parties.

Some principals are totally opposed to the National Party's 'Investing in Educational Success' policy, which will pay good teachers and principals to work across groups of schools. Others say it is on the right track but needs a lot of refinement.

The Porirua Whanau Centre has benefited from policies aimed at increasing enrolment.

The Porirua Whanau Centre Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

Few endorse the Labour Party's plan to lower class sizes, and the party's policy of paying schools to stop requesting donations tends to prompt calls for better all-round funding.

Where there is agreement between both rich and poor schools is in the area of special needs education. Early childhood teachers and principals in both high and low decile schools say they need more help for children with physical, mental or behavioural needs.

Randwick Park School principal Karen McMurray and associate principal Felicty Oberlin-Brown.

Randwick Park School principal Karen McMurray and associate principal Felicity Oberlin-Brown. Photo: RNZ / John Gerritsen

At a decile 1 school in Auckland, Randwick Park, associate principal Felicity Oberlin-Brown says the school's requests for more support for some children are often declined.

"We shouldn't have government agencies, and this includes the health sector as well, saying that they don't qualify or we can't help them or whatever, because we still have that child in our classroom and that child is still expected to succeed, and we want them to succeed, but sometimes we need more support for them to do so."

A world away at decile 10 Kohimarama School, principal Diane Manners says schools such as hers have to use funds raised from their community to support their high-needs students and she doesn't expect that to change any time soon.

"I don't see any party channelling their limited resources to enable schools in high decile communities to more easily meet the needs, or more readily meet the needs of their high needs learners."


Inequality is an issue many in the health sector face regularly, and not only in poor areas where health needs are particularly challenging.

The link between poverty and ill health is clear, with the latest Health Survey showing adults living in the most socio-economically deprived areas have significantly higher levels of all health risks, including smoking, hazardous drinking, inadequate vegetable and fruit intake, low physical activity and obesity.

Dr Bryan Betty, Porirua Union and Community Health Service at Cannons Creek.

Dr Bryan Betty Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

None of this would surprise Bryan Betty GP at the Porirua Union and Community Medical Centre in Cannons Creek.

He says his practice, which is predominantly Pacifica and Maori, has higher rates of a lot of the common chronic diseases, including diabetes.  

 "We have the highest rate of rheumatic fever within two kilometres of this surgery in the western world."

The practice is funded as a Very Low Cost Access practice to offer low fees and slashes the usual maximum fee of $17.50 to $10.

Larissa Toelupe, a patient at Porirua Union and Community Health Service is happy with charges at her local doctor.

Larissa Toelupe Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

That suits patient Lorrisa Toelupe:

"It was affordable to me when I was on a benefit. It's even more affordable now that I'm working."

Dr Betty says extra funding to tackle rheumatic fever has worked well, although the results probably won't be seen for up to 15 years. He says it's helped health and other government agencies target the wider needs of high-risk families.

He says such initiatives should continue, as well as a revision to funding for Very Low Cost Access practices which are not funded, but which should be, in his view for the deprivation they face. He's unsure whether a Labour Party pledge to boost funding by $40 million dollars will help.

The Medical Association says while more money's always nice, the promise just perpetuates a flawed system, and money aimed at needy patients, rather than their practice or area, is what is really needed.

Dr Don Simmers, Newtown Medical Centre, Wellington.

Dr Don Simmers Photo: RNZ / Karen Brown

Dr Don Simmers of Newtown Medical Centre, which is not a Very Low Cost Access practice, agrees.

"Unless you ghettoise every poor person into little enclaves so they can be served by a Very Low Cost Access practice, every practice has poor patients".

A general physician at an Auckland Hospital, Robyn Toomath, says she's often astonished to hear about patients' circumstances:

"They've been in hospital overnight or two nights with a chest infection and then we're wanting to send them out. Some of these people are living on the street."

Dr Nikki Turner of the Child Poverty Action Group wants a debate and an action plan.

"Children do not have the same access to services that others do.  A lot of it is financial ... even if you might have free access to healthcare services like most children under six, there are a whole lot of reasons why families still struggle to access healthcare services for their children."

Doctors welcome plans from National, Labour and the Greens to extend free GP visits to teens, including Labour's plan to add pregnant women. But they're less happy about Labour's intention to add those 65 and over as well. Mark Peterson of the Medical Association wants to see the focus elsewhere.

"We actually need to be targetting people who at the moment struggle to afford to go and see their doctor.  And those are usually younger people."

The Economy

Poverty, inequality and incomes are big issue topics for voters in the forthcoming election. Insight reports on tackling the health, education and income gap.


Pockets of poverty persist, despite the fact the economy is growing at above average rates and is expected to continue to do so.

Demand for food parcels at Mosgiel's Community Foodbank has risen by a third this year, which its coordinator, Michelle Kerr, says is due to the rising cost of living and fewer full time jobs. "It's just tough times, people not being able to make ends meet," says Mrs Kerr.

That's echoed in other communities throughout New Zealand.

Some regions, like Northland and Hawke's Bay are struggling.

And overall wage growth remains muted. "You get people asking; is this as good at it gets? Where is this 4 percent growth? Why don't I feel better than I was," says BERL senior economist, Ganesh Nana.

The Government remains optimistic. Employment growth hit its fastest pace in a decade, while demand for skilled workers, particularly in sought after sectors like IT and trades, is bidding up their wages. The construction boom, growing demand for dairy products in Asia and the improving health of important trading partners such as the United States is expected to help create more than 150,000 jobs over the next four years, and drive unemployment down to 4.5 percent.

"We do have very positive opportunities in front of us, says Finance Minister, Bill English.

Certainly, the economy remains top of mind for people.

When asked about the most important problem facing the country, a Roy Morgan poll in May found matters economic dominated, with 44 percent of New Zealanders mentioning it more than twice as often as the next topic of social issues.

The National Party is reminding voters that the fast growing economy is happening on its watch. Business New Zealand is on board with National's approach to build more roads, lower government spending, reform the RMA and loosen labour laws further. "We'd be concerned if we lost momentum" said Phil O'Reilly.

Unions argue the economy is on the wrong path.

"The (current) levers in the New Zealand economy are for low wages, low skills, and in the end, narrow job outcomes," says the Council of Trade Unions president, Helen Kelly. She's endorsing the Labour Party's policies to tax capital gains and lift savings to build a diverse and resilient economy.

But it is the voters who will deliver the final verdict on how the economy will be managed and national wealth divided in the elections in just under a month.

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One In Five for 10 August 2014 - Disability Policies

Disability spokespeople

Upper row: Labour’s Ruth Dyson, Mojo Mathers from the Green Party, National’s Jo Goodhew.
Lower row: United Future’s Peter Dunne, Tariana Turia from the Maori Party, New Zealand First’s Barbara Stewart. Photos: respective political parties.

One in Five host Carol Stiles speaks to political party disability spokespeople about action they’d like to see taken to improve the lives of people living with a disability. Employment, education, housing and community attitudes are up for discussion.  

Beehive PhotoNZ

The Beehive, Wellington, New Zealand. Photo NZ.


  • Photo Gallery: From the campaign trail
  • Election 2014 - Multimedia coverage of the Big Issues, unpicking policy, taking you along on the campaign trail, and putting politicians ‘Under the Grill’. Analysis in the ‘Poll of Polls’, and ‘Power Play’ columns.
  • Fact or Fiction? - keeping the politicians on their toes
  • Ask Away - put your questions to the politicians
  • On The Inside columns including 'BlogWatch' and analysis from specialist correspondents.