About Policy Local

Policy Local makes it easy to find out who’s running in your local elections and what they stand for.

Policy Local is New Zealand’s only comprehensive and easily accessible local-election candidate information site. We’re strictly neutral, focused only on providing voters with the information they need to exercise their democratic right.

Local governments play a huge role in the lives of all New Zealanders, providing essential services from transport, water, building consents, parks, recycling, art galleries and beyond. But less than half of New Zealanders voted in the last local elections. 

Not knowing who to vote for is a key factor, according to research by the Electoral Commission. It’s hard for voters to figure out what candidates believe in and what they’ll do if they get elected. So we made this website to help voters find this essential information.

Can I vote using this website?

No, you can’t vote through this website. You vote in your local elections by filling out voting papers sent to you in the mail. You can expect voting papers in the mail between 20 and 25 September, provided you’re enrolled and your details are up to date.

If you didn’t receive an enrolment update pack in the mail from the Electoral Commission by 8 July 2019, it means you’re not enrolled to vote or your details are not up to date. Luckily, you can enrol to vote at the Electoral Commission website. To do so, click here

If you enrol to vote after 16 August, you won’t get your voting papers sent to you in the mail. But you can still vote though. You’ll just have to request special voting papers from your local council’s electoral officer. Local Government New Zealand keeps a list of electoral officers. To contact an electoral officer, click here.

How did you make Policy Local? 

We sent questionnaires to every candidate standing in elections for regional authorities, territorial authorities, local boards, community boards and district health boards whose email address we could find. 

We asked candidates for up to three policies on key issues. We framed these issues broadly to make sure candidates were free to speak to the specific issues in their community. 

We asked candidates to limit each policy to 140 characters and to start each policy with a verb to make it easier to compare them. Sometimes candidates have chosen to leave one or more policy areas empty. 

Are all elections included? 

Almost. We do not cover licensing and community trusts because of the way these elections are administered. If you’re eligible to vote in one of these elections, it will be listed on the ballot papers you receive in the mail.

Are all candidates included?

All candidates should be listed under the election in which they’re running. But to date 312 of the 3,616 candidates didn’t receive the Policy Local questionnaire because we could not get their email address. Other candidates received the questionnaire but chose not to take part. 

We obtained candidate email addresses from electoral officers and electoral service providers around the country. But in many cases some candidates emails were missing, usually because the candidate had requested that their email be kept confidential. 

We’ve taken a number of steps to plug these gaps, including by sending SMS messages to candidates whose mobile numbers we had and by writing to electoral officers requesting they contact candidates on our behalf, as well as some Googling. 

If you’re a candidate but haven’t heard from us, please email us with your name and election at candidates@policy.nz — it’s not too late to be included!

Is my list of elections and candidates accurate?

We’ve done our best to ensure you get an accurate list of elections and candidates. Our system uses data obtained from Statistics New Zealand, Land Information New Zealand, the Electoral Commission and information supplied by local government electoral officers to generate these results. 

It’s highly unlikely, but not impossible, that the voting papers you receive in the mail identify different elections to those this website identified for you when you entered your address. If so, trust your voting papers and please accept our apologies.

101 of the 572 elections this year are uncontested because either the same number or fewer candidates stood than there were seats, or no candidates stood. These elections are still included in Policy Local, but please note that you won't be able to vote in the election. We've encouraged the elected members in these seats to respond to the questionnaire anyway, so that you can know what to expect from your newly elected representatives. 

Why do some candidates not have any policies?

If no policies are showing for a candidate, that’s because we either could not obtain their email address to send them the questionnaire, or they received the questionnaire but didn’t complete it.

Have candidates’ responses been edited?

Candidates’ responses have been left in their own words. We’ve only edited responses for spelling and typos. In a few cases we've removed answers that were off-topic or defamatory.

Are you telling me how to vote?

Your vote is yours, use it how you like. Policy Local exists to make it easier to understand what the candidates want to do with your vote, but there’s a lot more to voting than this. You could vote for someone because you trust them, because your mum knows them, or because their name is first on the ballot. But if you do use Policy Local to help decide who to vote for, there’s some things you should keep in mind.

Some candidates have more policies than others on any given issue. Each candidate was allowed to state up to three policies per topic, but not all candidates did. That might be because they don’t care about it that much, or because they have one great policy which they think will solve the whole issue, or because they’re a big fan of brevity. Simple arithmetic — which is how Policy Local generates your personalised graph — won’t account for variation in the number of policies each candidate has.

Likewise, it won’t take account of how much you care about different issues. Maybe you think climate change is far more important than sports and recreation. But if you favourite two sports and recreation policies from candidate A and one climate policy from candidate B, candidate B will be ranked higher in your graph. 

Are my favourited policies kept private?

You can’t be personally identified by the information this website collects. Policy Local does collect aggregate information about user policy preferences, but your individual preferences cannot be traced to you. To read more about this in our privacy policy, click here.

You can share your list of policies on social media or by sharing the link to the ‘Your Policies’ page. Note that if you post your list to another website, different privacy policies will apply. 

If you’re using a public device or a device you share with others, we recommend you clear your cookies and browsing history after browsing this website so other people can’t see your results. You can also clear your favourites list just for this website by clicking the reset button on the ‘Your Local Elections’ page

I’m a candidate, how do I take part?

If you’re a candidate and are not included in Policy Local it’s probably because we don’t have your email. Luckily, it’s not too late to be included. Just send an email with your full name and election to candidates@policy.nz.

Questions, corrections and help

Readers should direct any questions, corrections and requests for assistance to info@policy.nz.

Candidates should direct inquiries to candidates@policy.nz.

Who made Policy Local? 

Policy Local is a product of Policy. We’re a team from Wellington that make tools that strengthen democracy around the world by improving access to election information. 

Our work is funded through a mix of commercial sponsorship, advertising and donations. Our sponsors, advertisers and donors have no influence on editorial decisions. 

Policy Local wouldn’t be here without the very generous support of our sponsors, the Google News Initiative and Meredith Connell. Our special thanks also go to The Spinoff Members, Jenny Sutton and Addy. If you’re interested in supporting us in the future, please get in touch at chris@policy.nz.

Editorial | Ollie Neas and Asher Emanuel

Product | Racheal Reeves

Operations | Chris McIntyre

Subediting | Michael Graham and Max Soar

Illustration | Ezra Whittaker-Powley

GIS | Stella Blake-Kelly and Cartisan

Code | Xequals

Publication partner | The Spinoff

Photo credits

All via Getty Images. Auckland — Boy_Anupong; Bay of Plenty — Kieran Stone; Canterbury — Simonbradfield; Chatham Islands — Westend61; Dunedin — Lennéa Lukas/EyeEm; Gisborne — Andre Gallant; Hawke’s Bay — Nazar Abbas Photography; Marlborough — Marie Clyde; Nelson — Naruedom Y/500px; Northland — Hoxton/Martin Barraud; Southland — Paul Hartmann Paludo/EyeEm; Taranaki — Phillip SImon Photographer; Tasman — Lance Wordsworth/EyeEm; Waikato — Maria Feklistova/EyeEm; Wellington — Da Nengren/500px; West Coast —Tim Coupé/EyeEm; Whanganui — Anna Gorin.

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