Press Release – Howick Youth Council
With voting set to begin in under two weeks, the Howick Youth Council’s interactive candidate forums have been the first successful community meetings held virtually in the Botany and Pakuranga electorates for the 2020 general election.
The youth-led community forums held last Monday and Tuesday saw over 4000 combined Facebook views — with candidates fielding prepared and audience questions on a wide-ranging set of issues.
This included housing, transport, COVID-19, climate, enterprise, health/wellbeing, education and the referendum questions of cannabis and assisted dying.
With candidates Naisi Chen (Labour Party), Christopher Luxon (National Party), Damien Smith (ACT Party) appearing at the Botany forum and Simeon Brown (National), Nerissa Henry (Labour Party, through Zoom), Lawrence Xu-Nan (Green Party) appearing at the Pakuranga forum.
The forums can be watched at the following links:
Botany forum: https://youtu.be/SJHdkTralZs 
Pakuranga forum (dropped frames due to a connectivity issue outside of the provider’s control): https://facebook.com/watch/?v=242413407104649 
Youth council team lead Leane Te Boekhorst said she was happy with the response from the community and was pleased to facilitate a project which helps East Auckland youth be more engaged about voting.
“We had a great volume of audience questions and engagement from youth and the local community throughout.
“Making sure our youth are voting is vital for our future and we hope our forum made it accessible to them,” says Te Boekhorst.
Currently, 72 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 are enrolled to vote, an increase of three percent compared to 69 percent prior to the last general election.
The format of the forums were also praised by Newsroom’s co-editor and former editor-in-chief of the NZ Herald, Tim Murphy as “well-organised and structured [in testing] the candidates across the policy spectrum”.
The forums were moderated by Zachary Wong, Danica Loulie-Wijtenburg and Leane Te Boekhorst.
This Recruit Your MP project was produced by Team 5 on the Howick Youth Council including Leane Te Boekhorst, Annika Lee, Daniela Romero Mittelstaedt, and Amy Liang. Supported by leadership team member Danica Loulie-Wijtenburg.
Special thanks to live-streaming provider NUNC for supporting the event. Learn more about them at https://nunc.co.nz 
The Howick Youth Council would also like to specially acknowledge Ormiston Senior College for assisting in providing their auditorium for the evenings.