Enrol and Vote for the First Time

Every year, thousands of New Zealanders become eligible to enrol to vote for the first time, and this section of the website will help you get on the roll and ready to vote.

New Zealanders are lucky to live in a democracy, and we can all play our part in keeping our democracy strong by getting on the electoral roll and voting. It means we can take part in local elections, when we choose the people who will make decisions about our local areas, and general elections, when we choose the parties and politicians who will represent us in Parliament.

It also means we get to have a say on big national issues through public referenda.

Who can enrol?

In New Zealand the law says that you must be enrolled on the electoral roll.  You must enrol if you:

  • are 18 years or older, and
  • have lived in New Zealand for more than one year continuously at some time in your life,  and
  • are a New Zealand citizen, or
  • are a permanent resident of New Zealand*.

* Cook Island Maori, Niueans, Australians and Tokelauans can enrol once they have lived in New Zealand continuously for 12 months.  They do not require permanent residency to be eligible to enrol and vote.

Only those who are enrolled can vote, take part in a referendum, or sign a referendum petition.

You can provisionally enrol when you are 17 by filling in an enrolment form. You will then be automatically enrolled on your 18th birthday.

There are only a few reasons why a person cannot enrol. Find out who is excluded from enrolling.

How do I enrol?

Getting on the roll is easy! You can get on the roll now, or get a form sent to you by Free texting your name and address to 3676 or calling 0800 36 76 56.You can also pick up a form at your local PostShop. The form will ask you for information about yourself. Find out what the form will ask and why.

When you have enrolled, your name will go on the electoral roll, which is the list of people who have enrolled and are allowed to vote.

If you are Māori, you get to choose whether you want to be on the Māori or the General Roll. Find out more about the choice to go on the Māori or the General Roll.

If you are concerned about your safety if your name goes on the Electoral Roll, you can ask to go on the Unpublished Roll. Find out more about the Unpublished Roll.

If you need help to fill in your form, because of language or disability issues, you can ask someone else to help you, or you can contact your local Registrar of Electors.

How do I vote?

Every three years New Zealand holds a general election. This is when you choose the people and political parties who will make the decisions about the way New Zealand is run.

In New Zealand, we use a voting system called MMP.  In a general election, you have two votes.  The first vote is the party vote, where you vote for the political party that you most want to see in Parliament. This is called the party vote and largely decides the total number of seats each political party gets in Parliament.

With your second vote you can choose the person you most want to be your local Member of Parliament. They will represent your electorate, which is the geographical region you are enrolled in. The person who gets the most votes in your electorate will be your local Member of Parliament.

Find out more about how our MMP voting system works.

What address should I enrol with?

You should enrol at the address that you regard as your home. It could be that you are a student in another city but go home for holidays, or that you work in one city during the week and another on weekends. It is your choice as to which place feels most like home to you.

Do I have to tell the Registrar of Electors when I move to a new address?

Yes. You should contact your Registrar of Electors every time you change address.

You must inform your Registrar of Electors after you’ve lived at your new address for one month by filling in an enrolment form. Simply click here to update your residential address details and we'll either send you the printed copy, or you can download your own, to check, sign and send back.

Read more about updating your enrolment details electronically.

Can I get help to enrol and vote?

If you are unable to fill in the enrolment form, a support person can help you, or fill in the form on your behalf.

Your local Registrar of Electors is also able to help you get on the roll. Click here to find your local Registrar.

A support person can come with you when you vote.  They can go behind the voting screen with you, and can read out the words and information on the voting papers. The support person can also mark the voting papers for you if you ask them to.

Voting is secret. You do not need to tell anyone who you have voted for.

Information on enrolling to vote is available in: Arabic, Burmese, Cook Islands Māori, Farsi, French, Gujarati, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Māori, Niuean, NZ Sign Language, Punjabi, Russian, Samoan, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Tokelauan, Tongan, Traditional Chinese and Vietnamese here.

Last updated: 30 March 2016

Learning Resources