Home' The Wellingtonian : November 3rd 2011 Contents 12 THE WELLINGTONIAN, NOVEMBER 3, 2011
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Making every vote count
Rebecca Thomson talks to Electoral Enrolments
Centre manager Murray Wicks about enrolling to
vote, the Orange Guy and travel.
Murray Wicks: ''In election year Orange Guy is extremely busy.''
Photo: REBECCA THOMSON
What does the Electoral
Enrolments Centre do?
We're a division of New Zealand
Post and have a contract with the
Ministry of Justice to compile the
electoral rolls for parliamentary
and local government elections.
You started in Christchurch.
What lured you to Wellington?
I grew up in Christchurch and
started work at the Post Office
there. I realised that to be pro-
vided with a real challenge I
would have to go to head office in
Wellington. I was in my early 20s
How did the Enrolment Cen-
tre job come about?
I was in an area that looked
after suburban post offices. In
1984 the Right Honorable
[Robert] Muldoon called a snap
election and I got pulled into the
Enrolment Centre to assist. It was
all hands on deck. Rolls closed two
days after Muldoon called the
election and we were flooded with
You must love the job to
have stayed in it this long.
I do. It provides huge variety.
We're providing a customer ser-
vice, there's a communications
and marketing element, there are
legal requirements so you get to
know the statutes, and I have 70
staff. Also there's the IT aspect,
and that's of growing importance.
How has technology
changed the enrolment
When I started we had a basic
computer system. Staff around
the country had to input all the
data and those reports were
printed out as line flows. They
even had sprockets down the side.
The rolls were then split up and
sent to each electorate to be
checked. That's all done by com-
So it's easier to track
Much easier. If you move to
Auckland and get your mail re-
directed, that information goes
into the computer system, which
prepares a template letter and
enrolment form to be sent to your
new address. If you don't respond
to that letter after a month, a
reminder is sent out. If there's
still no response your name goes
on to a field list'' and someone
from the Electoral Centre will
knock on your door. While that is
all happening, the computer sys-
tem is waiting for information on
your old address. If no mail re-
direction is received, a Dear
Occupier'' letter is sent to that
Youth enrolment numbers
are low this year. Why?
There are several factors. They
don't see voting as cool; it's some-
thing adults do. They're more
interested in work, study, leisure
and living for the weekend. Also,
they don't think their vote will
make a difference and some are
intimidated by the perceived
bureaucracy of the enrolment pro-
cess. Many are politically aware,
but are using other avenues to
express their views. Social media
is very big.
Are you using social media
to capture those voters?
Yes. You can enrol via
Facebook. The Orange Guy has a
Facebook page and about 8000
How did the Orange Guy
It was a combined effort
between ourselves and an adver-
tising agency. When you're trying
to target everyone 18-plus, getting
an individual person to appeal to
all people is a big challenge. It
was too big a challenge, so we
went down the animation route.
The Orange Guy can morph into a
young voter or woman if we need
him to. He's been around since
Has the Rugby World Cup
diverted people's attention
away from enrolling?
The World Cup, the Christ-
church earthquake, the Pike River
mine inquiry, the world financial
situation and Rena have all made
it hard for us to gain media atten-
tion, and the public have a lot
interest in those stories. Also,
[John] Key announced the election
date in February and people have
had the sense that November was
a long way off, so haven't enrolled
Now that the political parties
are getting into their campaigns,
we've noticed a huge increase in
enrolments. The printed role has
closed, but people can still enrol.
Do you get asked about who
to vote for?
We do. We explain to them we
are a completely neutral organis-
ation, but encourage them to find
information and ask about politi-
cal parties or referenda. We tell
them to discuss it with family,
friends, colleagues and then come
to their own conclusions and vote.
What do you do outside of
I love to travel. When I was
young I would go away with my
parents. Subsequently I've trav-
elled with my wife and kids. We've
been all over New Zealand, except
for Waiheke, Stewart and
Chatham islands. We have an old
road map and mark off the roads
we've taken. We'll look back to see
where we've been and try go a dif-
ferent route. It's covered with
black felt markings.
What about overseas travel?
The most interesting place was
China. We took a 30-day tour of
China and I was very pleased we
did, because Westernisation is
moving there so fast. I thoroughly
What do you like about Wel-
I love its compactness. What
other capital city in the world can
you walk from one end of the cbd
to the other in an hour? Also, the
weather is unfortunate. I like to
do outdoor activities and the
weather does frustrate me.
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