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Why these young New Zealanders are advocating for a lower voting age

3rd July, 2016. A protest was run in London to demand the vote for young people 16 and over, organised and run by a group of young people. Image: Shutterstock.

Aotearoa’s voting age begins at 18 years old, but a generation of younger voices want a say in the decisions being made for New Zealand’s future. So much so, that a non-partisan, youth-led advocacy group called Make it 16 was created a few years ago to bring about change.

Youths are increasingly becoming the most affected by political, climate and economic events but are the ones with the least amount of say. Aotearoa’s Make it 16 is on a mission to lower the voting age to 16 years old because they believe that young people deserve to have the right to voice their opinion about the decisions being made in their communities. Their mission continues to this day, and they are well on their way to their goal — they recently had an appointment at the New Zealand Supreme Court.

Make it 16’s movement has also caught the eye of global beauty brand and retailer The Body Shop, who is also calling for young voices to be heard during political decision-making.

Cate Tipler, Make it 16’s co-director, says, “It’s heartening to know that organisations like The Body Shop recognise the need for generational change in the halls of power. We are the ones who will be most affected by the decisions our politicians make now, so it’s only right that we are given the opportunity to make our voices heard on the issues that will shape our future.”

The Body Shop is supporting Make it 16’s cause by donating $15 from each Changemakers’ Self-Love Toolkit sold to the campaign. To help spread the message, The Body Shop is also partnering with activist Shaneel Lal. This additional partnership is key — Lal has an established reputation as an activist in New Zealand and is passionate about causes that affect youth, being a key figure in the successful campaign to ban conversion therapy in NZ in 2021. 

Ultimately, the laws New Zealand is making (and have been making) affect more than those who can vote on them, so it’s time for young voices to be included in the decision-making process.


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