Meeting politicians

Page - May 9, 2014
Meeting with politicians in person demonstrates that you feel strongly about an issue and allows you to have a more in-depth conversation.

Who to meet: Find out which electorate you live in and who your elected MP is here

When: MPs will organise regular times where you can either give them a call and book an appointment to visit them, or (sometimes) simply drop in. MPs with ministerial responsibilities have less time to meet with constituents so it may be difficult to book. Polite persistence is the best strategy.

Be aware of how politics works. In New Zealand, many politicians are required to vote along party lines on most issues (unless there is a conscience vote). So you need to register your concern early in the debate, before the party has reached its position. Otherwise, your local MP may have little time to express their constituents' concerns.

Preparation: It’s good to be familiar with the issue you want to discuss and take some examples to back up what you say. But you don’t need to be an expert. In fact, you may find that even with little preparation you are the one who is the expert in the room during your meeting! If you do want to get up to date with the issues Greenpeace works on then check out the what we do pages for some useful information resources.

At the meeting

Go prepared to have a conversation. Be fair, and listen to their reasons for not agreeing with you immediately. Ear bashing your local MP is not a good idea - at first. You are more likely to convince your representative to change their mind by coming across as knowledgeable, reasonable, and passionate.

Don't beat around the bush. Tell your MP up front your opinion and what you think they should do about it.

  • Eg. “I ask that you publicly oppose deep sea oil drilling off the coast of Aotearoa NZ and support our multi-billion dollar clean energy industry instead”

Briefly state your argument as to why you think they should do what you ask.

  • E.g: “The risks of deep sea drilling to our environment and economy are not worth it. We can have more jobs and prosperity with clean economic development - and that’s the future I want for New Zealand.”

  • Eg. “Drilling for more dirty fossil fuels is the wrong direction for this country and increases the likelihood of catastrophic climate change. New Zealand belongs on the forefront of clean energy solutions not risky deep sea drilling.”

Make some specific policy asks.

  • Eg. “I want no more of our deep sea areas offered for oil drilling and all current drilling permits revoked and I want all subsidies and tax breaks to the oil industry removed,”

  • Eg. “I want the government to invest more in supporting our clean energy innovators and industries. It’s a cleaner, smarter and safer way of creating jobs and prosperity”

Try to get a clear commitment from your MP, even if it just to meet you again in the coming months to discuss the issue further.

After the meeting

Write or email to thank the MP for meeting with you and outline what you discussed. In particular, don’t let them forget any promises they made.

Set up your next meeting, whether it’s with same MP or another one. There may also be list MPs in your area worth meeting, particularly if they are high up in the party ranks or have a relevant portfolio.

If you didn’t convince your MP that’s OK! You have sown the seed and made sure they know there is opposition out there. The power of that can never be underestimated.