• Justin Hu

Community forums to allow public to question candidates running in Botany & Pakuranga electorates

A series of community election forums for local parliamentary candidates is set to be hosted by the Howick Youth Council (HYC) for the Botany and Pakuranga electorates in East Auckland.


Dubbed ‘Recruit Your MP’, the youth-led forums will feature a unique and interactive format with the event being live-streamed online.


The forums are currently tentatively slated to happen in mid-to-late September, pending further clarity around COVID-19 restrictions.


For the latest dates and information on Recruit Your MP, follow the Howick Youth Council’s social channels on Facebook and Instagram.



Pakuranga forum: Live-streamed, Monday 14th September, 6-8pm

Tentatively confirmed candidates for the Pakuranga electorate forum include:

Simeon Brown (National Party, incumbent), Nerissa Henry (Labour Party) and Lawrence Xu-Nan (Green Party).


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Botany forum: Live-streamed, Tuesday 15th September, 6-8pm

Tentatively confirmed candidates for the Botany electorate forum include:

Jami-Lee Ross (Advance NZ, incumbent), Christopher Luxon (National Party), Naisi Chen (Labour Party), and Damien Smith (ACT Party).


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At Alert Level 2 with additional mass gathering restrictions in Auckland

The forum will be held virtually through live-stream, however with candidates appearing on the same stage in-person while socially distanced. Forum will be live-streamed.


If Auckland is at Alert Level 3 or higher:

The forum will be held entirely virtually with candidates appearing over video-conferencing. Forum will be live-streamed.



The running order of the forum’s topics will be determined through real-time polling of the audience and questions can be virtually posed to the candidates on the night.


This format was dubbed by Stuff’s Todd Niall as having resulted in “the most engaging campaign meeting [he’d] attended” in the youth council’s 2018 local councillor by-election forum and was also used for HYC’s candidate forums in the 2019 local elections.


Youth council team lead Leane Te Boekhorst, who is organising the forums, says the project’s focus is to engage youth with local politics in a way where they feel empowered.


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%; 2017: 69.3%).


“We want to make sure all young people, as well as the rest of our communities in East Auckland, are empowered to make informed decisions on October 17th.


“There are over 20,000 young people in Howick, Pakuranga, Botany and Ormiston and we want to help make their concerns heard in an innovative and accessible format,” said Te Boekhorst.


The ‘Recruit Your MP’ brand is held by youth voice groups in the Auckland Youth Voice Network following the ‘Recruit Your Mayor’ mayoralty debate in 2019 — a collaborative project between five youth voice groups in Auckland.


If the forums are unable to be held due to COVID-19 alert level restrictions, then a virtual forum may be live-streamed instead.


Project by Team 5 on the Howick Youth Council including Leane Te Boekhorst, Daniela Romero Mittelstaedt, Annika Lee and Amy Liang. Support provided by leadership team member Danica Loulie-Wijtenburg.


Live stream by nunc.co.nz


Conflict of interest disclaimer: Ben Fraser, the chairperson of the Howick Youth Council is a canvasser and organiser for the New Zealand Labour Party in the Botany and Pakuranga electorates. For that reason, he has abstained from internal discussions regarding this event and has had access to questions withheld in advance.


© Howick Youth Council

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