Election 2017 - what's in it for you?

We have about a month until we get to choose which party or grouping of parties gets to lead our government for the next three years. School leavers like you will be the most affected by the policies and actions of the government after September 23rd.

By Alisha.

To help you work out who you might want to vote for (once you are enrolled of course), SchoolLeaver summarises each party’s thoughts and policies on youth, education and what your work future could look like.

Here’s how the election works, in simple language

It’s perhaps understandable that you may want to stay out of any discussion on politics. It’s everywhere we look at the moment, and really, could things be worse than what is happening in America right now? But not engaging is actually the dumbest option – you have no say in choosing it but you still have to live with the outcome.

Jamie's World has a take on how important your vote is

This group think they have the power – do they?

Here’s the various party policies that can influence  your future:

The Green Party

The Green party has a left-wing environmentalist perspective, and also promotes progressive social policies. Policies include:

  • Introduce a universal student allowance, at the level of the unemployment benefit, for full-time students, including 16 and 17 year olds, in tertiary education.
  • Work towards a public 'fee-free' tertiary education system by capping then progressively reducing student fees, investigating bonding options to reduce fees paid and looking at ways of writing student debt off. Look too at encouraging saving for homes by delaying student debt repayment
  • Introduce a Student Green Card to offer all off peak transport on buses, trains and ferries free of charge for all tertiary students and apprentices
  • Naturally big on climate action. Promoting climate change science and lowering New Zealand’s carbon footprint. Protecting too our drinking water and ensuring clean New Zealand waterways.
  • Protect the interests and identity of rainbow students in schools and tertiary institutions.

New Zealand Labour Party

A centre-left, social-democratic party. Currently the second largest party in Parliament and rejuvenated with a new leader it could end up as part of the next government.

Policies include:

  • Looking at voluntary bonding where graduates can have some or all of their student loan written-off in exchange for work in the public sector or in areas of skill shortage like teaching and nursing.
  • Progressively introducing 3 years of free post-school education, for university, polytechnic or on-job training. The first free year of tertiary education will be next year, 2018
  • Will boost student loans and allowances by $50/week.
  • Looking at voluntary bonding where graduates can have some or all of their student loan written-off in exchange for work in the public sector or in areas of skill shortage like teaching and nursing.
  • Generate ways to give unemployed young people a job for six months, so they can gain work experience and avoid long-term unemployment.
  • Adjust immigration numbers so more young New Zealanders can find work which may currently be going to migrants.
  • Creating a School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip school leavers with vital life skills including
    • learning to drive and getting a licence
    • having key workplace competencies
    • having financial literacy and budgeting skills
    • knowing their democratic rights and responsibilities Ensure every student has professional personalised career advice before leaving high school. 

New Zealand First

A conservative, populist party that could be vital to both National and Labour in order to get the numbers to govern. Policies include:

  • Raising the minimum wage, to $17 in the first instance.
  • Introducing a new system of subsidising wages for employers who take on young, unemployed people for trade training and skills programmes.
  • Imposing a strict immigration policy so cheap overseas labour does not undermine New Zealanders’ pay and conditions.
  • Introduce a universal living allowance which is not subject to parent means testing as a priority for all full-time students.
  • Review the student loan scheme and improve Studylink

New Zealand National Party

A centre-right, conservative party. Currently the largest party in Parliament and has been leading the government for the last nine years. Policies include:

  • Boosting the number of Engineering graduates around the country by 500/year
  • Boosting the number of Maori and Pacific students going into trades training by 2000/year
  • Launch 3 ICT Graduate schools to address skill shortages
  • Develop IT academies and internships helping up to 1000 students into digital careers 
  • Maintain immigration levels and continue to grow international student numbers
  • Lock the baddest youth up for a year in a boot camp

ACT New Zealand

classical-liberal party with just one MP who gets into parliament as part of a deal to strengthen the National party numbers. Policies include:

  • Establishing more partnership schools. 
  • Changing the Resource Management Act making it easier for developers to build in cities
  • Introduce road pricing on new and existing roads, congestion charging, peak time charges and preferential lanes.

The Opportunities Party

A new party with interesting policies, however will need to reach 5% of the overall party vote to have a presence in parliament. Policies include:

  • Youth unconditional basic income. Between 18 and 23 you will get $200 per week ($10,000 per year) no questions asked. You get to decide the best way to use the money, to pursue your own goals through study, training or whatever path you choose.
  • Promoting clean rivers and sustainable farming practices to ensure the health of the New Zealand environment; supporting climate awareness
  • Change immigration policies to reflect that only those who provided specialised skills will be permitted entry.
  • Imposing a small tourist levy for those entering New Zealand to cover costs of maintenance of natural assets.

The Māori Party

A party that addresses the concerns of New Zealand's indigenous Māori. Policies include:

  • Retain interest-free loans, write off the living cost component on student loans and reduce the repayment levels on student loans starting at 4% ($40,000),6% ($50,000) and 8% (for $60,000 loans and over)
  • Increase the accommodation supplement by half for all tertiary students and introduce a cost of living adjustment for student allowances
  • Provide free public transport to tertiary students
  • Remove the 8-year student loan cap for medical students
  • Introduce a 6-month “earn as you learn” job experience scheme for unemployed youth and a 12-month job experience scheme.
  • Establish 2,000 Maori youth scholarships and 300 Pacific youth internships per year


Alisha Parker juggles science studies with hospitality (read waitress),writing and laughing. While keen to vote, she worries she may actually start to enjoy politics.


The New Zealand Electoral Commission website (home of the Orange Man)

On The Fence – interactive information for first time voters

Design + Democracy – part of Massey’s College of Creative Arts

I Vote NZ – The Electoral Commission’s Facebook page