And a behind-the-scenes peek from a Generation Zero volunteer
Local elections are underway, and Generation Zero—a youth-led climate justice organisation—have released scorecards for mayoral, wards, and local boards candidates. Our scorecards aim to make information about candidates more accessible.
Here at Generation Zero, we believe that social justice is climate justice and Te Tiriti justice is climate justice.This year, our scorecards have a stronger focus on intersectional climate justice, rather than solely climate mitigation. We’ve been spending the past months surveying your candidates on five components of climate justice: Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Decolonisation; Environment; Transport; Housing & Liveable Cities; and Social Welfare & Equity. The questions we asked ranged from: “Colonisation is a continuing problem in Aotearoa NZ: (Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree)” to “Do you support repurposing lanes of the Harbour Bridge specifically for public transport and active modes? (Yes, No)”.
Take a look at the scorecards on our website localelections.nz to see how various candidates stacked up. Our resource adds to other resources available to help voters make informed decisions in their local elections, including policy.nz and, for Aucklanders, the Auckland Council website.
In addition to the scorecards we published, Generation Zero thought we might share some behind-the-scenes responses that were quite interesting, ranging from heart-warming to downright bizarre. We have learnt more than we ever thought possible about Auckland’s next batch of could-be political leaders. These responses are revealing of New Zealand’s political climate, and highlight the progress that still needs to be made in addressing the various stigmas we hold as a society.
In the first section of our survey, we asked candidates a range of introductory (and optional) questions, one of which is “Do you identify as part of the Rainbow/Takatāpui community?”. Interestingly enough, we have quite a few candidates who answered Yes/Unsure, but later asked us to not publish this info as they weren’t fully out. We of course respected their privacy. For candidates who are out and proud, a rainbow icon was added to their scorecard on the website.
There is also one candidate who asked us to not publish the fact that they are at or under 35 (we gave candidates who are at or under 35 a youth icon on our website). This raised the question: is being young a hurdle to participating in politics? We believe it shouldn’t be.
We also asked candidates to “list three people that you look up to as inspirations for what you do”. Responses often ranged from family—“My parents and grandfather”—to political leaders, past and present: “Helen Clark, John Key, Nelson Mandela”. Some turned to religion: “God The Father In Heaven, Jesus Christ, and The Holy Ghost”. Others were just too overwhelmed for choice: “I have many”.
A blessed few were even, quite frankly, a little scary: “Inventors of the past, Einstein, Newton and Bell. Humans had a greater collective intelligence 100 years ago due to erosion of nature and culture pertained intelligence of the way things are.”
Finally, there were some heart-warming comments. From a candidate who identifies as disabled: “This is the only survey so far to ask about identifying as disabled; this highlights how organisations make us and our needs invisible by not even counting us in statistics, let alone their policies or services. Auckland Council’s own candidate demographics survey attached to the nomination papers, and Local Government NZ’s candidate survey through policy.nz, does not ask candidates this. Thank you!”.
When filling in the pronouns question, one of the candidates said: “they/them (thank you for asking!)”
Other comments from candidates about our survey included:
“These questions set a roadmap of a Council that is more equitable and creat[es] a more just society, and I’m here for it.”
“Thank you. Quite thought provoking questions.”
Overall, we’re stoked to see many candidates committed to a climate-just future for the diverse communities of Aotearoa. Council plays a crucial role in our day-to-day lives, so make sure to exercise your right to vote!