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While the Government has a real-world impact on our daily lives, there has been a general decline in the number of people deciding who represents us in Parliament. Only 47% of young people aged 18-29 voted in the 2014 General Election, whereas 87% of people over 65 voted. 

Research tells us there are a number of reasons people aren’t involved with politics, particularly youth. These include:

  • a lack of information about political parties and what they stand for

  • a lack of understanding of the Government’s importance and relevance.

On the Fence was created to lower these barriers, and support young New Zealanders to become voters. It is a gameful questionnaire that guides people towards finding their best match amongst the parties standing in the General Election. It provides information about these parties and their values, explains what the Government does and raises awareness of the election in general. Importantly, we want On the Fence to spark conversations about politics with friends and family.

Why should I care?

The Government has a real impact on your everyday life. It shapes your country’s present and future. Voting in the General Election is a powerful way for you to influence who is responsible for making decisions about the services and issues that matter most to you. It’s an opportunity to have your say!

Where is the data from?

All political parties that met our inclusion criteria were asked to respond to the same questions as users. These responses form the algorithm that underpins the questionnaire and is what On the Fence uses to compare and measure party compatibility with users of the tool.

Who is involved?

Our criteria for party inclusion in On the Fence '17 is:

  • all parties must be registered with the Electoral Commission
  • currently in Parliament or

  • polling at 0.5%.

Polling was measured at 25 May 2017, the time parties were first invited to participate. All parties that met our criteria provided written consent and their own answers to the questionnaire.

How were the questions formed?

The questions have been designed by Massey University’s Design+Democracy Project, with input from RNZ, Generation Zero and Platform Charitable Trust.  

Want to know more?

You can find out more about On the Fence and the team on the Design+Democracy Project’s website,, or contact us directly at

Send us your feedback

What did you think of On the Fence? Let us know by emailing

Brought to you by:

On the Fence is an initiative of the Design+Democracy Project, a research unit established within Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, and is made in collaboration with the great folks at Springload.

We believe that the issue of low voter turnout is not only the responsibility of governments or councils — it is one that we all share as citizens. The Design+Democracy Project reckons design research can make a real contribution.

Our core team consists of Karl Kane, Tim Parkin, Claire Robinson, Kate Baxter, and Tim Turnidge. The wonderful people at Springload made things real, thanks Bron and team! Thanks goes to an amazing number of wonderful people who helped make this initiative possible, especially: Thomas Le Bas, Kieran Stowers, Linda Baxter, Sue Elliott, Ben Grave, Phoebe Morris, Annalie Brown, Heather Crichton, Germaine Tang, Tim Watkin and the team at RNZ, Cass Hesom-Williams, The McGuinness Institute, Generation Zero, Platform Charitable Trust and the original On the Fence student team.

Unless you volunteer personally identifiable information, the information you provide to On the Fence remains entirely anonymous.
While On the Fence provides analyses of aggregate data collected via the application, it will under no circumstances disclose to any identifiable third party individual-level user data nor will user data be shared with any candidates.
For more information please contact us at