Berger tops list thanks to National ideology
Tessa Berger’s bonanza of national media coverage began locally, with the Rodney Times sending out its reporter Jay Boreham to interview Tessa in respect to her eye-catching billboards, one of which by then had been removed.
Given evidence of its reasonably careful removal, and the fact no remnants remained on site, the likelihood was that it was souvenired. From a Rodney Times story, it instantly became a national one, through the paper’s owner’s national online platform Stuff, from where it was picked up by Seven Sharp, Breakfast and Fletch, Vaughan and Megan, even the New Zealand Herald.
That was the upside. The downside was that candidates competing for the Warkworth subdivision of the Rodney Local Board accused the Rodney Times of favouritism, in covering the story of Tessa’s irresistibly eye-catching billboards, resulting in its refusal to cover the subsequent quite separate one on how she succeeded in getting her old college to participate, for the first time in 25 years, in Kids Voting.
Given the record poor turnout in 2013, particularly in the Auckland region where barely more than one in three of those registered voted, it is the duty of the mainstream media to minutely scrutinise what is different, if anything, this time around. That other candidates failed to get a local college involved, and students fired up for Kids Voting, is not news; that Tessa Berger did, is. And at the risk of reiterating the theme of the last three Mahurangi Magazine articles published once too often, participatory experience in voting in schools is the only evidence-based route to reversing, long term, the worldwide decline in turnout. Even the lacklustre 2013 Justice and Electoral Committee reported:
Evidence shows programmes that are experiential, for example simulations and field trips, are generally more effective. Some of us would like to see a central government agency with overall responsibility for civics education.
Charged with inquiring into methods of increasing voter participation in local authority elections, the apparently conflicted committee, rather than reviewing the current civics programmes and making concrete recommendations, kicked for touch:
We recommend to the Government that it review the available teaching material in civics education and investigate the commissioning of research into the impact of civics education in New Zealand on voter turnout and voter behaviour.
The government’s response to the sum of the committee’s recommendations could be likened to a condescending pat on the head, all-too-amply typified by its response to the specific civics recommendation:
Work is already underway within the Ministry of Education, with input from the Electoral Commission, on incorporating and resourcing civics education in the social sciences / tikanga ā-Iwi learning areas; this is an ongoing and iterative piece of work as The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa are regularly reviewed and updated.
The Government does not consider that funding research into the impact of civics education in New Zealand on voter behaviour should be a key priority at present. Instead the Government will work with that [sic] LGNZ, SOLGM and other local council organisations to encourage the provision of experiential learning opportunities for schools.
Exactly when a government might consider the impact of civics education on voter behaviour to be a key priority, other than following a record-low voter turnout, is mind boggling, except perhaps for the terminally cynical. The National-led government’s lack of motivation is probably entirely explainable by the expanded form of Sod’s law—sods, Sod’s law, and underperforming sods—and not part of a Machiavellian plot to keep the masses subjugated as uncomplaining consumers sleepwalking into a future devoid of even a survivable climate. But governments would have every reason to fear, was experiential democracy to become a core curriculum activity, that not only would students soon be flooding to the polls demanding immediate meaningful action on climate, but that they would not wait until reaching the age of enfranchisement before demanding changes in their own schools, such as no child be left behind, on account of being provided with neither breakfast nor lunch.
So, while the government plays pass-the-parcel with Local Government New Zealand, the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers and ‘other local council organisations’, Tessa Berger has rolled her sleeves up and owned the urgent need for the evidence-based Kids Voting programme to be made available to more than just a lucky few. Following her Mahurangi College visit, ahead of a lunch break, students were reluctant to drag themselves away, for the playground. On Friday she was invited to meet students of the Snells Beach School, and was literally mobbed by them.
Starting a movement with the potential of turning around the world-wide decline in voter turnout, beginning in Aotearoa, may be news that Tessa’s political rivals would inadvertently see supressed during an election, that their own lack of newsworthiness go unpunished by the mainstream media, but the fourth-estate is supposed to be the bastion of freedom and democracy.
The Mahurangi Magazine, unbeholden to bullies, encourages readers see past the likes of those who pedal the arrant fiction that Rodney ratepayers, of all the ratepayers in all of the Auckland region, are somehow being short-changed, and…
…vote with one tick only, for the first, best, brightest and youngest candidate on the list: