QLDC councillor uses TikTok to make council 'digestible'

by Lauren Pattemore - Mar 14, 2024

Trying to bridge the gap between local government and the uninterested, and increasingly dissatisfied public, Queenstown Lakes District Councillor Cody Tucker has taken to TikTok.

The decision comes after deliberating how to make local government more "digestible" for people, he says, hoping to inform Kiwis on what they do and to also inspire future leaders. 

First-term Councillor Tucker found during the last local elections a lot of his peers didn't even know what a local councillor is.

"And even people who are at other stages in their lives look at me with a blank face when I say I'm a district councillor."

His first video on TikTok received 15,500 views on the platform and TikTok users who came across Councillor Tucker's video were eager for more local government content.

TikTok users who came across Councillor Tucker's comment were eager for more local government content


Data from Figure.NZ shows 60 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds log on to TikTok at least once a week, and 21 percent of those aged 30 to 49. 

Bringing council onto the apps where young people spend their time has been encouraged by Dr Andy Asquith, a former Massey University local government specialist.

"We need to move with the times. Clearly, traditional methods aren't connecting large parts of the population with local government."

He says he's "delighted" to see this innovation.

"Far too many people can not see the relevance of local government to their lives - and councils are very bad at countering this incorrect perception."

Voter turnout data from the last local government election in 2022 showed only 36 percent of New Zealanders cast a vote.

Down from 44 percent in 2019.

"There is extensive evidence that shows that if young people don't engage with the electoral process in any of the first three elections after their 18th birthday - then they will never vote," Dr Asquith says.

Using TikTok is to be encouraged, he says, and he reckons there should be training provided to councillors to enhance their reach on new social media platforms.

Councillor Tucker also notes that notes there is "such a disconnect and loss of faith" in the council, referring to results from Queenstown Lakes District Council's quality of life survey and Crux's recent survey.

Only 15 percent of respondents from the annual council survey reported feeling satisfied or very satisfied with the performance of elected councillors.

"That relationship [between councillors and the public] really needs restoration. This is some attempt to try and improve that."

Councillor Cody Tucker hopes the videos can also inspire more younger Kiwis to step up and be leaders. 

His first video explained what his first 18 months as a councillor have been like, attending workshops, being invited to everything, and organising your time, he describes it as "jumping on a moving treadmill". 

Councillor Tucker says the role of local government and its processes can be hard to wrap your head around.

"There's so many different aspects to it, from parking and planning to economic development and environment and then parks and community services. 

It's tricky to put this information into TikTok's short videos and to put yourself out there, but Councillor Tucker is welcoming the challenge and the creativity. 

He says right now is a "transformative time" for New Zealand both in central and local government, and there needs to be more fresh and new ideas coming to the table.

He says housing, the destination management plan, Three Waters, and the Resource Management Act reforms as being some of the topics that need wider local exposure and understanding.

View Councillor Cody Tucker's TikTok here.


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