The NCWNZ Manawatu branch ended their February meeting with a discussion: ‘Should 16-year olds have the right to vote?’ It was led by a local Year 13 prefect Sjaan Toomey Jakobs, who skilfully managed the interactions.
Sjaan has just completed a Rotary scholarship for Auckland University. Sjaan’s thoughts supporting the topic included that teenagers were the future, and they were more concerned about climate change, and possibly more informed than adults about its consequences. Sixteen-year olds have the right to marry and drive vehicles so why not vote, and early practice makes for lifelong voters? Recently the Appeal court agreed that there was no justification to exclude 16- and 17-year-olds from voting. (See the NZ Herald article on this ruling last November.) Finally, age is not a sign of maturity.
Various guests and members engaged with ideas concerned with lack of knowledge and training, peer group irresponsibility and life inexperience. The meeting concluded with groups engaged in further lively discussion while departing.