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Every Child Counts

An ageing society which doesn't care for its young has a death wish…—Professor Dame Anne Salmond

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Advocacy toolkit

Take action now

Maybe you would like to take action yourself and speak out for children.

Here are some suggestions for things you can do to express your viewpoint in a constructive way.

Encourage MPs to take the ’1000 days’ pledge for political action for children

For more information, click here.

Write to your MP

MPs do listen to public opinion. So it is important that they hear from you. A courteous letter setting out your views can be very influential. Similarly, if your MP publicly says something you agree with relating to children and their interests, it is important to write and support them.

Most MPs have offices at both Parliament and at their electorate. You can write to them at either. They also have email.

To find out who your MP is and how to contact them go to: http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/

Tips on writing to your MP

Always be courteous

Remember you are trying to influence the MP’s thinking, not alienate them. So use courteous language. Don’t be sarcastic, judgmental, or question their motives.

Don’t get emotive

You feel strongly enough to write to them. That carries weight, but it will also make it important to understate rather than overstate. Don’t use exclamation marks, heavy underlining, italics, or bold font. And don’t write words in capitals to make your point (GET IT!)

Keep to the point

Like all the rest of us, MPs are very busy people. They do want to know what you think on an issue but they don’t want to hear about several issues at the same time. Keep to the point.

Keep it short

This is related to point three above. Much research has been done on children’s issues and many books have been written on most subjects relating to children. Don’t try and convey all that information in your letter. Your MP is most interested to hear what you, a member of the voting public, think should be done.

State the purpose of the letter at the beginning

It is useful also to give your letter a heading that sets out what the subject of the letter is.

If you decide to write a letter (‘snail’ mail) instead of email then remember you do not need to put a stamp on the envelope if it is sent to:

Name of MP (eg: Hon Jim Anderton MP)
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160

Write to your local newspaper.

Most New Zealand newspaper has websites which provide information on where to send letters to the editor for publication.  Most accept letters by email.  Here is a list of NZ newspapers’ websites.

Tips on writing to your local newspaper

Always be courteous

Remember you are trying to influence the readers’ thinking, not alienate them. So use courteous language. Don’t be sarcastic or judgmental.

Don’t get emotive

You feel strongly enough to write. That carries weight, but it will also make it important to understate rather than overstate. Don’t use exclamation marks, heavy underlining, italics, or bold font. And don’t write words in capitals to make your point (GET IT!)

Keep to the point and keep it short

Newspapers normally limit letters to 200 words so have one point to make in your letter and keep to it.

State the purpose of the letter at the beginning

It is useful also to give your letter a heading that sets out what the subject of the letter is.

Call your local talkback radio

Love it or hate it, talkback radio is here to stay. If you want to get your point of view heard it is as good as a letter to the editor. There’s at least one near you so why not use it. It is the fastest way to respond to news and events. And remember, politicians listen as a means of keeping abreast of what people are thinking or are concerned about.

When you ring you will not go straight on air. Instead you will be spoken to by a producer who will want to know your name and what you want to say. If you want to stay anonymous then explain that to the producer and your reasons for wishing not to have your name given on air.

Tips on calling your local talkback radio

  • Prepare yourself before making the call. Have a main point that you are very clear on. Stick to that point and don’t ramble around the subject. It helps to write down that main point as part of your preparation. It is useful also to have a few facts at your fingertips
  • Speak as you would to a friend on the phone. Keep it conversational, one-to-one. Be friendly. Don’t shout or make a public speech
  • If you can, support your argument with facts or expert opinion
  • Be positive and constructive. Offer an alternative way rather than be critical
  • Keep it personal – use stories and experiences if you can
  • Be good-natured and relaxed. Use humour if the opportunity is there
  • If you get asked an unexpected or awkward question, don’t go silent. Just relaxedly say something like “I would have to think about that …”
  • You can also send you point of view to talkback hosts by fax or email.

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