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Mark The Date, 3 Kiwis Tell Us Why It’s So Important To Have Your Say And Vote

By Jess Willemse
2nd Oct 2020

Girl in a red and white-striped blouse looking and smiling at the camera.

It’s officially voting season. After another lockdown and a postponement of the election, it’s FINALLY here—and boy are we ready to tick those sweet little papers and make a mark on our future. 

Wondering how to vote? Check out our lowdown on the process here, it’s all going down from October 3–17. If you're wondering why you should vote, we've partnered with the Electoral Commission to catch up with fellow Kiwi’s Jess Quinn, Dani Fennessy and Torrell Tafa to find out why it’s so important to have your say this year. 

Jess Quinn

MODEL AND BODY POSITIVITY ADVOCATE  

can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a proud Kiwi from Auckland. I do a mixture of different things from modelling through to advocacy but my main battle is helping others see that the one thing we all have in common as humans is that we’re different, and that should be celebrated.

2020 has been a wild ride, what’s something positive that has come out of this year for you?

It sure has! I usually spend a lot of my time on a plane and living between countries, so it’s been really nice to stay in one place, especially as I’m about to welcome my first niece into the world. It’s also made me appreciate just how lucky I am to be a Kiwi.

What makes you proud to be a Kiwi?

I believe Kiwis have an incredible community around them. Being a small country, we all band together when the going gets tough and I think that’s pretty unique. Also, to live in an environment where the ocean is never far away is pretty amazing.

So the vote is going down from the 3–17 of October, why is it important young New Zealanders have their say?

Because we are voting for our future. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised how important it is to take a stand for what you believe in, and I think understanding what you believe and voting accordingly is an incredible way to take hold of that power.

What will you be thinking about when it comes to this election?

First and foremost I’ll be researching issues and policies to understand with what I align with and then I’ll be taking into account how that will affect my whānau, community and myself.

How will you be rallying your crew to get out there and vote?

I’ve been sharing the importance of voting with my social media community, as well as having important, in-depth conversations with close family and friends in and around what we believe in. These conversations hold so much weight and power to understanding what you stand for.

What’s one bit of advice you’d give to a first-time voter?

Don’t be intimidated. I was for years but once I realised it was simply about understanding what I stood for and voting accordingly it became a lot easier. I found that not everything resonates with me but to not be put off by that. Do your research and vote accordingly—because it’s cool to care.

Torrell Tafa

YOUTUBER, THE COUGAR BOYS

can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I’m a 27-year-old Polynesian born and raised in East and South Auckland. I'm a Youtuber, creating content for the last seven years alongside my friends 'The Cougar Boys'. The content I create is usually humorous but I try to dabble in all types of categories from wholesome pranks at the Avondale markets to VFX and travel videos around the world.

2020 has been a wild ride, what’s something positive that has come out of this year for you? 

What a rollercoaster, I’m glad it’s nearly over! I spent most of my time in lockdown up-skilling and sorting out life things that I just never had time for, like cleaning out that sock draw. It was kind of refreshing. Spending time with family, learning that maybe you don’t get along with each other as well as you thought, but that’s why they’re your family. Getting massive pecs from doing the Facebook push-up challenge (I’m kidding, I forgot to do day three and then gave up). Oh and also having enough toilet rolls to last me until 2022.

What makes you proud to be a Kiwi? 

Seeing Kiwis like Taika Waititi and Parris Goebell from such a small place dominating the entertainment industry. How multi-cultured we are as a society, how relaxed we are as people, the beautiful scenery and the food! My previous job was a long-haul flight attendant for three years and these are the things I thought about constantly.

When did you start to invest more time and energy into voting?

To be honest, it wasn’t as soon as I turned 18 that I decided to vote, it was a bit later in life. I remember clearly what happened—it was close to voting time, I was surrounded by a group of friends who were talking about the elections and I had nothing to say. At the time I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on with the elections, nor did I go out of my way to find it. So I asked my friends they gave me a quick spill and I went and voted with the little knowledge I had.

What will you be thinking about when it comes to this election? 

I’ll be thinking about what supports my environment, my personal needs and my friends and family. The economy and its rebuild to compensate for the funds used for the pandemic. Respect for Indigenous morals and land use. Better and cheaper transport accessibility in Auckland. 

How will you be rallying your crew to get out there and vote? 

Setting aside a date when my family and my partner are free—most likely the weekend—and heading to vote. Then soon after going out to the beach for some BurgerFuel (the best combo). Can’t say no to that!

What’s one bit of advice you’d give to a first-time voter?

You don’t need to know every detail to vote, that’s the common misconception. What you know now is enough and what you don’t, is not important. Most people think their vote won’t count but if 10,000 people thought that way, 10,000 people won’t be heard. 

Dani Fennessy

PODCASTER  

can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m 28 years old, Māori/Rarotonga/NZ European, born and raised in South Auckland—this sounds like a tinder bio, but a boring one at that! I’m now living between Auckland and Mount Maunganui because I love the beach but Auckland is where Mahi is for me. I’ve worked in radio for the past eight years and I currently host two podcasts. One for the LGBTIQ+ community and one mental health focused.

2020 has been a wild ride, what’s something positive that has come out of this year for you?

I’ve appreciated the time and opportunity it’s given me to slow down and think about what’s really important in life. My nephew was born in December, so I was grateful I got to spend more time with him in those milestone months then I would have if I was my normal pre-COVID self. Also, I learnt how to make a mean slow-cooked lamb.

What makes you proud to be a Kiwi?

Being from such a small country but having such amazing talent come out of it in the way of musicians, artists, sports, leaders, people in general. And our culture is beautiful, I fall in love with it more every day.

The vote is going down from the 3–17 of October, why is it important young New Zealanders have their say?

The youth is the future! This is your time to make your voice heard. I know how passionate young New Zealanders are and guess what? YOU can be in charge for once!

When did you start to invest more time and energy into voting?

To be honest, I didn’t start investing time until I was about 22. I never knew much about politics and didn’t realise how much it actually impacted my life. It’s when I realised how much it affected things like my money, career, values that I really started investing.

What will you be thinking about when it comes to this election?

Not only how my vote will affect me, but also how it will affect my community, family and our future—and I'll be making sure my vote aligns with my values. 

What’s one bit of advice you’d give to a first-time voter?

Have open conversations with people you trust, talk about it but make sure you do the research for yourself as well, and always make sure the source is reliable.

Ready to make your mark and cast your vote this year? Say hello to our old mate the Orange Guy and find out everything you need to know at vote.nz thanks to the Electoral Commission

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by the Electoral Commission and proudly endorsed by The Urban List. To find out more about who we work with and why read our editorial policy here.

Image credit: Jess Quinn, Torrell Tafa and Dani Fennessy.

 

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