A job interview to recruit a mayor; for the youth and by the youth.

That’s the promise of “Recruit Your Mayor”; an ambitious planned interactive debate where mayoral candidates can face young Aucklanders directly. 

Five youth councils from around Auckland have spearheaded the effort and have been supported by the University of Auckland’s Debating Society. 

The livestreamed debate is going to be co-moderated by former Macleans deputy head boy Zachary Wong (Howick Youth Council). Also co-moderating is Rosie Nicholson of the Whau Youth Board.

In a statement, Recruit Your Mayor spokesperson Shereen Lee said the debate was part of a broader effort to increase historically low rates of youth turnout at local elections.

“The concept of recruiting our next mayor is about getting people to realise we’re the real bosses here. What we’re essentially doing is hiring people through our votes.

“We’re trying to make the forums as accessible as possible. We’ve filmed questions young people from around the region want to ask and we’ll be taking questions from our Facebook livestream during the events,” Lee continued.

Video submissions are being accepted from young Aucklanders. These will be played during the debate, with candidates answering.


Topics in the debate are said to focus on housing, the environment, transport, rates and youth engagement. The interactive part of the debate will also feature the live audience polling.

Invited to the debate were all 21 candidates registered to run in the mayoral race — 11 have so far confirmed their attendance including prominent frontrunners, incumbent Phil Goff and John Tamihere.

When asked about how the interactive debate would be moderated between 11 candidates, debate moderator Zachary Wong said:

“The main priority for us is to make sure each candidate gets equal amount of time to speak, and especially for the topics they’re vocal or passionate about. We might guide some questions in the directed debate part of the night to certain candidates to balance things out.

“More broadly, I think it’s important we get to hear from as many people as possible before we vote. We think the more voices that get to contribute, the better the discussion of ideas and the better decisions we can make when it comes time to vote.

“It’s not just a two-horse or a three-horse race. We don’t think it’s the place of debate organisers to decide who the winners might be. So, we invited every person who made their details publicly available in their nomination or through social media.”

When asked about how the moderators were chosen, event co-ordinator Irra Lee said:

“We thought it was important for the moderators to be youth to show that youth are switched on and are interested in politics to be able to run a completely youth-led debate.”

The debate’s focus on interactivity and youth engagement was first trialled by the Howick Youth Council during last year’s councillor by-election, which saw the first Asian councillor be elected to join the Auckland Council’s governing body.

Read more (article continues below):
Stuff, opinion (Todd Niall): Is Howick a model to boost voting in Auckland?

Several satellite viewing events are being hosted across the city, including in East Auckland at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts in Pakuranga. Other satellite viewing locations include in Manurewa and Albany.

The debate itself is planned to be held at the University of Auckland City Campus on September 14.

Find out more details at recruityourmayor.org.nz

Learn more about the upcoming local elections:
Stuff: Auckland local body elections: How to vote, what you are voting on and key dates
NZ Herald, opinion (Simon Wilson): The reinvention of Auckland – Why the council election matters (Pressreader)

Written by Justin Hu, published on 07/09/2019. Images: Recruit Your Mayor

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1 Comment

  1. Excellent explanation, Keep up the great work

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