35% turnout in Auckland – apathy the winner on the day – how to change it



35% turn out in Auckland – apathy would’ve been the winner on the day, but it stayed home.

Firstly, congrats to The Daily Blog bloggers, Efeso Collins, Julie Fairey, Penny Hulse and Aaron Hawkins for winning, and congrats to John Minto for managing to run a Mayoral campaign on a fraction of the budget of the big guys.

Len Brown ho-hummed his way to victory, promoting a City Rail Link that even if fully funded will actually see traffic jams worse by 2030, the winner seems to be apathy and the Auckland Union voter sheet guide which saw many of their candidates win election.


While the win by the Greens and the progressives should be a source of great joy for us all, the sickly turn out in Auckland is not good for the state of local democracy.

Talking to many Aucklanders about why they didn’t vote and the answer that came back was a resounding feeling that they simply weren’t equipped enough to know who to vote for. When who mows the lawn managed to be the lead political discussion, many decided to avoid casting a blind vote.

Online voting which is being touted by some as the cure all won’t help this lack of knowledge of candidates and the issues they are campaigning on, the total absence of decent media coverage is the problem, not being able to click a button for conveniance.

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Leave aside the issues of hacking these online systems and the ease with which results could be manipulated and what we now know about the scope of NSA spying, citizens don’t believe they know enough to cast a vote. The solution I think lies in regional TV.

Face TV is due to lose it’s free to air signal at the end of November. The Ministry of Culture & Heritage is supposed to ensure freeview frequencies are available for regional TV to move to, sadly however Kordia have sold all the remaining channels to business interests. How Kordia have managed to kill off regional TV without so much as a whimper in the news is just another example of the lack of critical media in NZ. If we want Aucklanders to have a better understanding of the issues and local politics, the SuperCity should…

1: Ensure Face TV has a free to air signal in Auckland on Freeview
2: Pay to film their council meetings and pay to have shows where the local counsellors are quizzed and challenged on the issues of the day.

A local Government quiz asking why people didn’t participate found 31% saying they didn’t know enough about the candidate. This lack of participation is the direct result of Aucklanders having no idea what any of the candidates are running for.

If Aucklanders have no idea of who and what to vote for, it’s the responsibility of the SuperCity to do more than pay lip service to local democracy, they have to invest in the existing media infrastructure to promote it.

Pushing ahead with easily hacked online platforms while keeping voters in the dark isn’t a solution.


  1. ‘ Equivalence ‘ is an interesting little word . I heard it said a number of times when American News organizations were reporting on this and that on Al Jezeera this morning , when I was up having my usual bought of the screaming shits at 4.00 am .
    It was an interesting story about how the New Media , namely about programmable preferences on i-stuff so that one unwittingly only hears the story that has equivalence across the news channels . I hope I’m explaining myself clearly .
    I blame the Media for Aucklands not to be unexpected poor voter turn out . People are bleached of hope , drained of energy and so appallingly dumbed down that I’m surprised they can dress themselves for the day without detailed instructions and a team of cheer leaders .
    We now live in a Woop Yeah ! High Five society and to turn that back around will require Herculean efforts from those in the wheel house .
    God help you , all you good Aucklanders . Welcome to the Ghetto .

  2. What we need is a radical reshaping and restoration of what used to be called “public broadcasting”, which naturally should include a healthy amount of “community programs” by various groups. Also do I share the view that people need more information about what Councils all over New Zealand are actually doing.

    Here in Auckland we get the regular glossy circulars in the post, which rather present very superficial information, and often nothing more but propaganda put out by the majority in Auckland Council, with the consent of Mayor Len Brown.

    We know who we have to thank for the way Greater Auckland was designed and established, and it leaves too little for true democracy at ground levels.

    Information is crucial, but we do not get it, due to a largely abysmal mainstream media, that distracts rather than informs.

    I am counting the days that FACE is still on Freeview, and I already had a young guy call by to try and sell me Sky TV. I am reluctant to join that private corporate media provider, as I can barely afford paying other bills for essentials, do not want to pay 40 or 50 dollars extra per months, and anyway believe strongly in free to air, public broadcasting.

    The National led government has almost totally killed off and choked public broadcasting. I am sure it can be offered in an affordable way, and doing away with the overpaid news readers and celebrity style reporters may leave a bit more cash for essentials to run affordable public media. Triangle did manage on a low budget and turned out something reasonable, so why can TVNZ not be run better?

    Television and radio can be integrated with online services, that would complement the traditional broadcasting.

    So my hope is that a Labour – Greens goverment will take the courage and deliver on restored public broadcasting, at national and local levels, starting with affordable access to frequencies or channels.

  3. I reckon what we need is a decent power cut! Long enough to let UPS batteries run out on cell towers and longer. Except that we’d probably have a nation of consumers and taxpayers requiring counseling!
    Come to think of it, they should be held once a month.

  4. Bugger! – there’s a flaw in my plan. Nations no longer exist -local/regional affinities, real-time social interaction and all that kaka (so last century).
    Except in various pockets (who I’ve no doubt will be the survivors whilst the others just wonder what they did wrong)

  5. 65% contentment on the day. How not change it!

    It is only Aucklanders with berms getting het up about berms (apparently).

  6. Well the left buy into the right wing propaganda machine once again. How about we see it for the great victory that it is.


    After our local government has been forced to change on us twice in the last thirty years – people are sick of it. IT DOES NOT WORK! It is a failure of democracy, because democracy has been removed. Why vote in a obviously corrupt and anti-democratic system? It has become a sham voting system akin to something in the former soviet union – or Florida.

    So, go you good thing – GO Auckland for standing up! And not voting. Yeah I said victory for those who see a corrupt and evil political system, a victory for working people, a victory for the average citizen who has seen politician after politician lie with one hand, then take with the other.

    This is a great day – a glorious day. This is not a day to buy into the right wing propaganda machine and moan and wail about apathy and low voter turn outs.


  7. Boyracers (actual age 18-45) were never going to vote and they make up a sizeable part of the population. Assuming there are around 200,000 boyracers in New Zealand and if you divide that number by two million (so you exclude under 18 year olds) they represent 10 percent of the voting public (purely speculative figures, of course)

  8. So If the issue is “why they didn’t vote … was a resounding feeling that they (we the people) simply weren’t equipped enough to know who to vote for”.

    A couple of thoughts:

    (1) Councilors need to be responsible directly to the community in a much more proactive way. There needs to be a range of forums that they are involved with in all areas of our communities. ie They come to us! and on a regular basis …

    and (2) I made a suggestion to one of my local reps where potentially local body websites, during the election period, set up a Q+A site. We post questions, candidates respond. Limit the number of characters, (much like twitter) to say 200 to keep things succinct. I suspect a moderator would help to amalgamate questions with similar intent and limit the list to say 50 questions. As you say, trying to find information other than the pap in the candidate booklets was very difficult.

  9. Theory: 5% percent were indisposed. 10% can’t understand how. 15% didn’t even know it was on. Half the rest don’t give a shit, for various reasons including they have no idea what it would mean for different people to win, because that information is not exactly easy to find (no one reads your blog, eh).

    That leaves 35% voting. Want more? Make it a party vote, at least people could tick the same box their parents did when they were a kid.

  10. What seems to be apathy is something I have known for a long, long time. A 35% voter turnout is a 65% vote of no confidence. Do not run away with the idea that ‘silence means consent’. Silence is dissent. Plain and simple. It is the people who have hijacked power who hug to themselves to sleep at night with the notion that by achieving the silence of the masses they have obtained its consent. It has not.

    Noam Chomsky is not altogether correct. The hijacking fat-cattists have no need to manufacture consent when manufacturing silence is so much easier, so much cheaper, and so much more reliable. That it is a whole deal more dangerous explains why the mad ruch to ‘up-tech’ their defences against the populace at large.

    But what on earth have voters to vote for? It has been years since I voted ‘for’ anything. I have voted against a good many things. But the liars, the cheats, the hired assassins and thugs who run the country, robbing their ‘fellow’ citizens of their livelihoods, their wealth (such as it was), of everything they might have accomplished – who votes when they know beyond a shadow of a doubt they have no stake in their own country? Because such stake as their forebears fought for have been grabbed back by the fat cattists and their ilk.

    For most Kiwis, no one came to their help when they most needed it. In the end, they have been left abandoned, too goddam busy scraping out as much of a life as they can achieve, and let the kleptocratic idiotocracy go and get … phuct.

    One thing is for certain. So utterly and maniacally useless is any kind of political leadership across the planet, that it has ensured the dissolution of the entire human race before this century ends. The upside of this is that the disaster will overtake the fat-cattist buggers just as surely as it will everyone else.

    Here is the reason for the 65% vote of no confidence. It matters not a fart in a typhoon what the outcome of an election is. The ‘government always gets in’. Think about that.

  11. I didn’t vote because I thought the candidates were a shower of shite and their words on the leaflet meant sweet f.a. Of course, I wish I had voted against Len Brown, now I know hes a lying disloyal sleaze. My not voting was NOT any form of verdict on the super city. That theory is ridiculous.

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