With less than 24 hours until New Zealand goes to the polls, our team at Kiwi Greens UK have been spending every spare hour hunting down Kiwis and reminding them to vote.
Now, as our campaign reaches its final hours, we’ve been reflectin g on what a great time we’ve had campaigning over the last three years.
We’re the only NZ political party with a dedicated London branch (in fact, we’re not sure if other parties have any international branches at all) and it’s been incredibly rewarding to meet so many ex-pats who care about New Zealand as much as we do.
The London branch of the Greens has been active since 2007. Our first branch co-convenor James Shaw is now ranked 12 on the party list and is (fingers crossed) poised to become an MP this weekend. We’ve always had a strong team willing to volunteer their time to help UK Kiwis stay engaged in the political process of our home.
With more than 60,000 New Zealanders living in the UK, we could never hope to meet everyone, but this election cycle we estimate we’ve spoken to anywhere between 5000 and 10,000 Kiwis around London and the UK.
Our core volunteer team is around ten people from a range of backgrounds. We are graphic designers, journalists, filmmakers, human rights workers, social media experts, conservationists, IT workers, publishers and executive assistants. Some of us have been involved with the party in NZ. Some of us have only ever been involved from overseas. Some of us have families and some of us are single. All of us are Kiwis trying to make our way in London, like so many of our fellow expats.
We meet at least once a month and share dinner. Being around people who share your values and passion is inspiring and we’ve become friends through our shared experience.
And we’ve done a lot in the last three years:
- We’ve been at the last two Waitangi Day Pub Crawls, handing out lollies and stickers
- We hosted a Q+A with Greens co-leader Russel Norman
- We campaigned to Keep Our Assets in New Zealand hands in the 2013 referendum.
- We put on an All Blacks watch party at the famous Ozone Café.
- We ran an enrolment party in Soho
- We’ve walked around Homelanz Festival charging peoples’ mobiles with solar power.
- We enlisted Keisha Castle-Hughes tohelp us hand out flyers at a Kiwi film screening
- We ran a series of posts from our volunteer team outlining why they chose to vote and campaign for the Greens
- We hosted a nature walk in Perivale Wood – one of London’s best preserved nature reserves
- We’ve stood outside gigs whenever Kiwi bands come to town – Liam Finn, I Am Giant, Hollie Smith, The Veils, Tiki Taane and lots more
- We built our own website – votefornz.com – to give expat kiwis they tools they need to cast their vote.
- Over the last few weeks we’ve sent letters to more than 1000 Kiwis in London with a message from the party leaders
- We’ve created web banner ads targeted to UK IP addresses on some of New Zealand’s most popular websites
- And, finally, we’ve spent the last ten days standing outside Tube Stations in Clapham, Shepherd’s Bush, Angel and Hammersmith informing Kiwis how to vote a the last minute.
It’s been a busy time! But we wouldn’t change a thing.
Our last act before the election is to ask you, one more time, to vote. We’d love you to vote for us and we believe the Greens have the vision to transform Aotearoa into a sustainable, equal, clean country that anyone would be proud to call home.
But more important than who you vote for, is simply voting. Voting allows you to have your voice heard and claim ownership of the way your country is run. It’s a statement of personal intent that no one can deprive you of. It represents everything you value.
It’s not too late to vote from the UK. New Zealand House in Trafalgar Square is open until 4pm in Friday and you don’t need to be enrolled to vote there. You can do that on the day.
If you are already enrolled your can download your voting papers from the Electoral Comission website and return them by fax. You can also scan them or take a photo and upload them to the website. These must be received by 7pm Saturday NZ time (8am UK time) but it’s best to do it on Friday in case there are any hiccups.
Once you’ve voted, please come and join us on Saturday morning for our Election breakfast. We’ve booked a pub in Kentish Town and are expecting more than 30 people to watch the results roll in. Advance tickets are available here and include a breakfast option or a breakfast/drinks option. Door tickets will also be available.
To everyone who has seen us out and about over the last three years – thanks for the smiles of recognition, the time you’ve taken to listen to us, the hugs and the high fives. We’ve had a blast and we can’t wait to celebrate a great result on Election Night…well Election morning for us London folk!
Nga Mihi and Thank You
– Lizzie, Bryce, Simon, Sian, Kate, Megan, Hannah, Charles, Radd, Kieran, Sarah and the team at Kiwi Greens UK
(And we’ll still be here after Election Day. Watch this space for more exciting events and news for the rest of 2015 and beyond)