Political experts line up to deliver the ‘real deal’ before the election

If you are looking for the “real oil” ahead of the general election come to Tūranga’s Election Special sessions on the last day of August and next month.

Experts from the University of Canterbury will explain why you get two votes, how they impact life in Aotearoa and what you can expect after all the votes have been cast on election day, 14 October.

Make Your Votes Count

Professor Bronwyn Hayward and Dr Lindsey MacDonald will lead the first Election Special session, called ‘Make Your Votes Count’ on August 31. It starts at 6.30pm in Spark Place on He Hononga, Tūranga’s ground floor.

Professor Hayward is chair of the New Zealand Political Studies Association working group on Civics, citizenship and Political literacy. She was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to political science, particularly sustainability, climate change and youth in 2021. She was a Kiwibank Local Hero 2019 and winner in 2021 of the Westpac/Stuff media Supreme Woman of Influence Award.

Dr Lindsey Te Ata Tū MacDonald is a senior lecturer in Political Science and Public Policy at the university and has advised  the New Zealand Government on the Treaty of Waitangi and previously worked for the State Services Commission and Te Puni Kokiri.

Both speakers will talk about why our votes count, and the processes of special voting, how to register to vote and what the difference is between your party vote and your electorate vote. 

Is Artificial Intelligence Dangerous for Democracy?

Researchers from the university will also bring you up to speed on the impact Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having on democracy in New Zealand, the state of journalism and how you can find reliable information and avoid the traps of fake news on 14 September. ‘Is Artificial Intelligence Dangerous for Democracy’ will feature a panel discussion with three speakers.

Dr Zita Joyce, Head of Department of Media and Communication, and Professor Donald Matheson, Media and Communication, will focus on issues of trust and communication in Aotearoa while Dr Geoff Ford, Digital Humanities, will home in on the newest technologies we talk about as 'AI', what is new and not new about them, and what you should know about them going into an election in Aotearoa in 2023. They'll propose some straightforward ways to cut through the messages coming your way this election.

Professor Matheson will focus on the skills we as voters can use to work through the information and debate we find online and how we can use the digital environment. This includes understanding Artificial Intelligence, how to detect manipulated or artificially generated content but also how AI organises the huge flow of information around us.

Dr Joyce focuses on broadcasting and social media, including podcasting and Twitter while Dr Ford’s background in software development enables him to combine technology with his analysis of New Zealand political parties and their rhetoric and environmental politics. 

The second session begins at 6.30pm in Spark Place on 14 September.

Why Does Politics Make Us Angry?

Our third session focuses on ‘Why Politics Makes Us Angry’. Professor Natalia Chaban, who is an expert on political communication and public diplomacy, will talk about why we get emotional when we discuss domestic politics and international affairs. She will discuss emotions when it comes to international relations crises and focus her presentation on the case of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Associate Professor Mike Grimshaw will ask if New Zealanders have shrugged off the “Passionless People” label that social commentator Gordon McLauchlan tagged us with in the 1970s. He will illustrate his points with political cartoons published in recent decades.

Both lecturers will also offer strategies on how we can keep the peace with friends and family we disagree with.

The third session begins at 6.30pm in Spark Place on 21 September.

Enrolment information

Representatives from the Electoral Commission will also attend the three sessions and will be available before and after the sessions to answer your questions on enrolment.

In addition we have a series of Electoral Connect Roadshow at a variety of locations throughout August.