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Kea New Zealand to find missing overseas voters

Monday 25 August 2008

Media release
Ivan Moss, Chief Executive
Kea New Zealand

For immediate publication

“Every Vote Counts”: Kea New Zealand to find missing overseas voters

New Zealanders living overseas have been vastly under-represented as voters in past General Elections – and so Kea New Zealand has launched a global campaign to encourage them to vote in this year's election.

“Although at least 600,000 Kiwis live overseas, only 28,000 voted in the 2005 General Election,” says Ivan Moss, CEO of Kea New Zealand. “Our Every Vote Counts campaign will help redress that imbalance by reaching tens of thousands of eligible voters overseas and encouraging them to enrol and vote.”

New Zealand citizens can vote from anywhere in the world if they have visited New Zealand within the previous three years.

“Our research shows that lack of information contributes to effectively disenfranchising tens of thousands of eligible voters who want to vote, who want a say in the future of their country and ours – a country most of them plan to come back and live in. In our Every One Counts survey of 2006, many people told us of their strong desire to participate in New Zealand general elections, yet lacked information on how to enrol and vote.”

This month, Kea conducted a further survey of its members overseas. It found that:
 Over 90% of the overseas respondents are eligible to vote, based on how recently they were in New Zealand.
 Almost two-thirds definitely want to vote, and more than 90% are at least interested in voting.
Yet despite these aspirations, in 2005 only 28,000 of an estimated half a million eligible New Zealanders living overseas actually voted.

“Kea is in a unique position to encourage New Zealanders living overseas to vote, and that is what we are going to do,” says Ivan Moss.

The Every Vote Counts campaign is being launched today [editors: Monday 25 August, New Zealand time] with a website, media campaign, an email message to Kea’s 25,000 members in 178 countries, plus promotion among other New Zealand groups, blogs and social networks.

“We encourage New Zealanders at home to tell your friends and family overseas to find out about voting via the Every Vote Counts website, www.everyvotecounts.co.nz,” says Ivan Moss. “Word of mouth is a very important tool in encouraging eligible voters overseas to enrol and vote.”

The focus of the campaign is to encourage overseas New Zealanders to check their eligibility and enrol at the official elections site (www.elections.org.nz). The Every Vote Counts website has other election information and links to the political parties. Subscribers will be reminded of key electoral deadlines to help them remember to vote.

Kea New Zealand (www.keanewzealand.com) is an independent, non-government, non-profit Incorporated Society dedicated to encouraging overseas New Zealanders to maintain and deepen their connections with home.

The Every Vote Counts campaign is strictly non-partisan, and does not advocate that overseas New Zealanders vote for any particular political party or candidate, nor hold or act on any particular political opinion. No public funds are being used to support Every Vote Counts.

Appendix One: Kea survey of overseas New Zealanders’ voting knowledge

A survey was conducted between 11 August and 20 August 2008 of randomly selected Kea members overseas.

Key results:

1) There is high awareness among New Zealanders overseas about the General Election:

Q: Before you received this email, did you know 2008 was an election year in New Zealand?
 Yes (77.0%)
 No (23.0%)

2) More than 90% of the overseas New Zealanders in the survey are eligible to vote in this year’s election, based on when they were last in New Zealand:

Q: When did you last visit New Zealand?
 Within the last three years (90.4%)
 Within the last 12 months (61.5%)
 More than three years ago (9.6%)

Note: NZ citizens are eligible to vote if they have been in New Zealand within the last three years. Permanent Residents are eligible if they have been in the country within the last 12 months.

3) There is a strong desire among New Zealanders overseas to vote, with 91.8% at least interested in voting, and almost two-thirds (65.4%) definitely wanting to vote:

Q: Do you want to vote in New Zealand’s 2008 General Election?
 Yes (65.4%)
 Probably (8.8%)
 Maybe (17.6%)
 No (8.1%)

Appendix Two: Background on Kea New Zealand

Kea New Zealand (www.keanewzealand.com) is a global community of people who help each other achieve great things all over the world through the common passion they share for New Zealand.

Kea's mission is to connect New Zealand with its large global talent community, and contribute to the growth, development, and future prosperity of New Zealand by facilitating the sharing of knowledge, contacts and opportunities around the world.

The OECD estimates that 16% of all New Zealanders live overseas – and that 24% of New Zealand's highly skilled workforce now lives offshore, a figure that is higher than for any other developed nation.

Kea turns this phenomenon into a source of national competitive advantage, by tapping this wealth of international knowledge and expertise and making New Zealand the most globally connected nation on earth.

Kea connects about 25,000 Kiwis and other “friends of New Zealand” living in 178 countries across the globe. In partnership with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Kea organises the World Class New Zealand network and the annual World Class New Zealand awards; employs Regional Managers who lead overseas-based chapters around the world; and helps aspiring New Zealand companies by introducing them to useful overseas contacts via its Kea Global Mentors programme.

Kea was established in 2001, and is a non-profit Incorporated Society based in Auckland. It is non-government and independent.

Kea New Zealand has a proven ability to reach and motivate overseas New Zealanders. There are Kea New Zealand chapters in more than a dozen overseas cities, and full-time Regional Managers in Australia, China, UK and North America.

Every Vote Counts follows Kea’s “Every One Counts” census of overseas New Zealanders in 2006, which reached 29,000 overseas New Zealanders.
Appendix Three: Kea New Zealand’s “Every One Counts” census (2006)

Kea New Zealand’s global census in 2006, Every One Counts, discovered a large group of highly talented and engaged New Zealanders living around the world. The online survey connected with more than 29,000 New Zealanders in 155 countries.

Kea’s online survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted from New Zealand, kicked off at the same time as New Zealand’s official Census in early March 2006.

The Every One Counts census received 18,000 responses from overseas New Zealanders. The survey also captured information on 11,000 spouses and children of respondents – bringing the total reach of the Every One Counts census to over 29,000 overseas Kiwis.

The census found a group of talented and successful New Zealanders who are still strongly connected to their home country:
- Up to 75% of the respondents may return to New Zealand permanently at some point, with half definitely intending to do so. Only 18% said they are unlikely to return to New Zealand.
- More than half of overseas New Zealanders in the survey maintained some kind of economic connection with New Zealand.
- Over 80% of respondents have tertiary qualifications, compared with 35% of the adult New Zealand population, according to the 2001 Census.

These results reinforce OECD research suggesting that New Zealand’s overseas community is more significant in both size and talent than that of almost any other developed country.


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