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Bebo to haul in Maori, youth voters

Sep 3rd, 2008 | By | Category: Latest News, News

SOCIAL networking website Bebo is being tipped to help boost falling Māori enrolments.

Several Bebo profiles have been commissioned by the Electoral Enrolment Centre as part of a campaign to target youth, Māori and Pacific people.

Bebo is popular with Māori and Pacific peoples, and with 800,000 users, it is the obvious choice to attract young people to enrol to vote, says adman Tim Dixon, of agency Y&R New Zealand, which has been contracted by the Centre to market enrolment.

“All young people are difficult, but even more difficult are the Māori and Polynesian groups,” he says. “When I say difficult, they are less likely to be enrolled.”

The centre hopes this will reverse a trend that has seen 47,000 Māori voters lost from the electoral roll.

They were removed after their electoral packs were returned to the enrolment centre unopened and with unknown addresses, disqualifying them from being on the roll.

Enrolment Centre manager Murray Wicks says this is not uncommon between elections, as many young Māori move around the country. He expects numbers to improve closer to the election.

“[Māori] tend to shift more, and it’s [enrolment] not at the top of their minds,” he says.

Mr Wicks is encouraged by the high level of awareness about the election, but says the hard part is motivating people to enrol.

“It’s easy,” he says, “It’s about getting off their butts and doing it.”

Māori Party MP Hone Harawira stresses the importance of whānau encouraging young people to get involved in the political process.

Co-leader Pita Sharples says he is shocked by the statistics: “That’s almost half the number of new enrolments that were achieved as a result of the 2006 Māori Electoral Option” (when Māori were asked to choose between the general and Māori rolls and as a result of the new Māori enrolments an extra Māori seat was created).

The Māori roll has fallen by 28,953 since the 2005 election, while 17,615 Māori have dropped off the general roll.

PICTURE: Electoral Centre workers enrolling people in Wellington’s Manners Mall.
 

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is a graduate of Whitireia NewsWire. He's a reporter for BusinessWire (yes - he does like the wire theme), where he writes daily stories updating currency movements. And he still spends far too much time reading blogs.
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