Topic: Matariki

Rising Star finalist Laura O'Connell Rapira the new face of activism

By Ani-Oriwia Adds

Laura O'Connell Rapira a finalist in the Rising Star category is a grassroots leader who provokes thought by challenging those in power. She has been described as the new face of activism. And, now with the upcoming elections her mission is to increase the youth vote.

She may be young but don't be fooled, this girl is creating some of the biggest change movements in New Zealand. 

Owner of  Rock Enroll Laura O'Connell Rapira says, "I think that people think often that politics is for those people over there in the beehive when actually those things you rant about on social media that you care really passionately about, a lot of that is a political opinion and were trying to kind of bring those to the surface."

27-year-old Laura O'Connell Rapira of Te Atiawa and Ngāpuhi is a staunch believer that youth have the ability to influence change. 

O'Connell Rapira says, "What we're saying is not the blame needs to be put on the system and politicians for that because young people aren't disengaged I would say that they're dissatisfied and to be dissatisfied with whats on offer you had to have been i guess engaged enough in the first place to have expectations."

Concerned with the low voter turnout among youth, Laura co-founded Rock-Enroll, a youth led volunteer run organisation dedicated to building political power through grassroots communities. One of Rock-Enroll's competitions saw a thousand more young people enrolled over the space of ten days.

O'Connell Rapira says, "You sign up your flat or your sports team, or your marae or your church group or youth group or whatever it is and you have to try and enrol as many young people as you can over a space of ten days and so they would sign up online and then they would try and get people enrolled and so the winner of that competition would get a fully catered house party where Tiki Tane would come and play at your house.

Laura says that her and her team will be very busy in the coming months preparing for the elections.