A vote from the heart

10:53 am on 21 September 2017

By Deborah Mahuta-Coyle - @DebsMahutaCoyle

Opinion - When you are making the decision about who you will cast your vote for at this year's election, do you vote with your heart or your pocket?

Te Puea Marae, 12 July 2017.

Te Puea marae is among many examples of New Zealanders offering help to others, no questions asked, Deborah Mahuta-Coyle says. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Do you ask yourself, "I've got mine, so why don't you get yours?" and "What's in it for me?" or do you ask yourself, "What's in it for everyone else?"

Everyone votes for different reasons - none of them are wrong. Just different.

I'm going to be honest with you - I vote with my heart.

I'm doing pretty okay in life, and I guess that makes me one of the lucky ones. But I know what it's like to be less fortunate. I grew up doing it tough. And if I could, I would change things so not a single kid in our country had to grow up facing the same challenges as I did.

I don't vote for the Deborah Mahuta-Coyle of 2017.

I vote for Deborah Mahuta from the 1990s - the little Māori girl, living in a state house with her mum and siblings struggling to get by and hoping to win Lotto one day so she could buy her mum a car that didn't overheat all the time.

I vote for my mum, who is heading into retirement age without a lot of savings - because she spent every dollar she earned paying off school fees so her kids could get a good education.

I vote for my brother-in-law who is now training as a builder's apprentice, who wants to buy his first home and is saving hard for a deposit.

I vote for my cousin. He is a champion trying to overcome mental health issues. I vote for his committed parents as well.

I vote for friends who just had their first baby boy and the unfairness of only being able to stay home with their wee man on paid parental leave for a mere 18 weeks.

I vote for every kid that is hungry, every parent that is struggling, every Kiwi who needs hope for a better future.

Like I said, I'm doing okay. But I will not look away from those who are not. I don't think it's the Kiwi way, our way of doing things.

Whenever our country is faced with disasters like the earthquakes in Christchurch and Kaikōura - we offer food, clothing, and a place to stay, to meet the needs of those doing it tough.

When too many Aucklanders were without a home, Te Puea marae opened its doors and fed the masses, and housed those in need - no questions asked.

Even when someone in our neighbourhood faces tragedy, we drop off home baking or a casserole at their doorstep hoping to ease their burden.

No one stops to think twice about helping others or how much it might cost them personally. We get on with what needs to be done. Why should casting our vote be any different?

So this election, I think more of us that are doing okay in life will vote with our hearts to help out others, people we care about, people that need our help.

I'm going to.

Deborah Mahuta-Coyle works for the public relations firm BRG. She has previously worked as a press secretary for former Prime Minister Helen Clark and more recently as communications manager for petroleum industry group PEPANZ.

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