News & Events

New Zealand General Election: Your Guide to Participating in Democracy

The New Zealand General Election is an important event that allows citizens to choose their representatives and shape the future of the country. If you’re a non-native English speaker living in Aotearoa New Zealand, understanding the election process can help you engage in the democratic process and have your voice heard. In this blog post, we’ll provide an easy-to-read guide to the New Zealand General Election.

What is the New Zealand General Election?

The New Zealand General Election is held every three years to elect members of Parliament (MPs) who will represent the interests of the people. These MPs will form the government and make decisions on various matters affecting the country.

Note: The next General Election will be held THIS YEAR on Saturday 14 October 2023. You can find 2023 GENERAL ELECTION TIMETABLE on About the 2023 General Election [Electoral Commission New Zealand].

Who Can Vote?

As a non-native English speaker living in Aotearoa New Zealand, you have the right to participate in the General Election if you are a New Zealand citizen, a permanent resident, or have been residing in Aotearoa New Zealand for at least one year.

You’re eligible to enrol and vote if you’re a permanent resident and have lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months or more.

For electoral purposes, you are a permanent resident if you’re in New Zealand legally and not required to leave within a specific time.

This includes someone who holds a valid resident or other visa if:

  • you live in New Zealand
  • your visa does not require you to leave New Zealand within a specified time
  • you have lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months or more
  • you are in New Zealand legally
  • you are not subject to sections 15 or 16 of the Immigration Act, for example have a conviction for certain offences or have been deported from New Zealand or another country.

If you hold a 2021 Resident Visa, and you meet the criteria above, you are eligible to enrol and vote in New Zealand.

If you are on a work or study visa that requires you to leave New Zealand by a certain date you are not eligible to enrol and vote.

(Are you eligible to enrol and vote? [Electoral Commission New Zealand])

Registering to Vote:

To vote in the General Election, you need to be enrolled on the electoral roll. You can check your eligibility and register online through the Electoral Commission’s website or visit a local PostShop or the Electoral Commission’s office to complete the registration form.

Understanding the Parties:

Aotearoa New Zealand has multiple political parties representing different ideologies and priorities. It’s important to familiarise yourself with the major political parties and their policies to make an informed decision. You can find information about parties, their leaders, and their policies on various news websites or by attending political debates.
Political parties currently in Parliament — New Zealand Parliament | Pāremata Aotearoa
Story: Political parties (*From the first political party in 1891 to today) — Te Ara, The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Voting Process:

On the day of the General Election, you’ll visit a polling station and cast your vote. The Electoral Commission will send you an EasyVote card that contains your details, making the process quicker and more convenient. Follow the instructions provided, mark your choice on the voting paper, and place it in the ballot box.

Special Voting Options:

If you can’t vote on the election day, there are special voting options available. You can vote in advance at designated locations, apply for a postal vote, or request assistance if you have accessibility requirements.

Importance of Voting:

Voting is a crucial way to exercise your democratic right and contribute to the decision-making process in Aotearoa New Zealand. By casting your vote, you have a say in shaping the future of the country, addressing issues that matter to you, and ensuring that your voice is heard.

Election Results:

Once the General Election is over, the votes are counted, and the political party or coalition that secures the majority of seats forms the government. The leader of the winning party becomes the Prime Minister, and the elected MPs work together to implement policies and govern the country.

The New Zealand General Election is an opportunity for non-native English speakers living in Aotearoa New Zealand to actively participate in the democratic process. By registering to vote, understanding the parties and their policies, and casting your vote on election day, you can have a direct impact on the future of the country. Remember, your voice matters, and by exercising your right to vote, you can help shape a better Aotearoa New Zealand for everyone.