Improving access to local democracy is at the heart of Nelson City Council’s 2022 Local Elections campaign, says Deputy Electoral Officer Devorah Nícuarta-Smith.

With nominations to stand opening 15 July, Council is using feedback from the community to create Local Election information that can be accessed by all.

“People from all over the world call Nelson home, and their experiences of democracy can vary widely," says Devorah. 

“The same can be said for people who, for one reason or another, have difficulty engaging with elections because there are barriers in place that stop them from being able to access information or cast a vote.

“In some ways, the things we can do are quite practical. For instance, this year Nelson City Council elections will use the Single Transferable Vote system, so we are creating an animation to explain how this will work.

“Using captions and a sign language interpreter in our videos are simple ways to ensure the Deaf community and people with hearing loss can understand them fully.” 

For those who have never considered standing for election before, Council has created an election ‘roadmap’ outlining the basic steps a person would need to take to run a campaign, and video interviews with former Nelson City councillors offer a glimpse into the election process and the role of serving on Council. These can all be found by searching 'elections' at

“Other elements of what we are doing are less tangible and more to do with the relationships we are building and maintaining with groups right across Nelson,” says Devorah.

“For example, Nelson has long been a place where refugees have settled, and right now there are a significant number of Burmese people who could take part in local elections, whether through standing or enrolling to vote.

“There are some really important face-to-face conversations we want to have here, as participating in democracy in Burma/Myanmar is very different to here.

“The feedback we have from community leaders we have already spoken to is that some people are scared to take part in the election process due to experiences they’ve had in the past. There is work we need to do to reassure people that New Zealand’s democratic system is safe to participate in.”

To encourage people to stand for election who may not have considered a role in local government before, Council will hold information sessions for potential candidates in their own communities. 

“We usually hold one meeting at Civic House, but this year we are coming to a community venue near you,” says Devorah.

Community information sessions will be held at Victory Community Centre, Tāhunanui Community Hub and Pūtangitangi Greenmeadows near the end of June/beginning of July. These events will be advertised on Facebook and Our Nelson once confirmed. 

An information session for those standing as candidates will also be held at Council Chambers on Wednesday 20 July from 6:30pm. Check out the videos at Shape Nelson to learn more about what it is like to serve as a Nelson City Councillor.