Around Aotearoa

How Long Until the Majority of Voters Are Gen Y and Gen Z?

And will it make a difference to Aotearoa’s political outlook?
teenagers dabbing
Image credit: istock

From Brexit to Aotearoa’s own cannabis referendum, we’ve seen older generations have the dominant vote on issues that will outlive them. 

The complaint often lobbied in these situations is that young voters are left living in the world created by those soon to leave it. And right now young people are a minority, fighting against an older class who (depending on who you ask) doesn’t care for our future. 


About a quarter of the 3,688,292 total New Zealanders enrolled in last year's election are over 70. 

And Gen Y and Gen Z are currently the minority of eligible voters in New Zealand – with 1,598,352 18-44 year olds and 2,089,940 45+ year olds enrolled for the 2023 election. 

So how long will it be until we make up the majority? A change in the majority generation that makes up a voting block will definitely change how politicians approach policy, but is it really down to, well… how much time it takes for older people to die?

People born into Generations Y and Z are currently between 12 and 43. This means most of us already are voting – or at least have the ability to. 

Last year, 452,882 eligible people between 18-44 didn’t vote. Will the New Zealanders turning 18 in the next 6 years have the power to bring up those numbers? It’s unlikely. 

In only 6 years time, the entirety of New Zealand’s “iGeneration” (has anyone ever called it that?) will be eligible to vote. From that point, we’ll theoretically take up about half of the voting body. 

In 15-20 years, about half of the older age group voters will drop off – or rather, we will encroach on their territory, becoming the main body of voters, with Gen Xers above us and Gen Alpha below. 

So, in the grand scheme of things, our time to shine is not too far away. 


Gen Z is arguably in competition with boomers for being the most vocal about their political views online. No generation can be defined by a singular political outlook, but you do get the sense – from perusing everything from X to TikTok to Instagram – that a minority of people under 25 fall into the liberal camp. 

Maybe it’s because of the echo chamber. Maybe it’s because Gen Y and Z either lean super vocal or say nothing at all. 

And maybe it’s because the glimmer of idealism has always been associated with youth – although, for a generation facing the 11th hour of climate change, the desperation for change is more than just a matter of preference. 

 So many people find themselves churning through the motions of an intensely liberal outlook in their teen years before easing up on a few of those beliefs when entering adulthood. Past arguments with parents who don’t agree that “all landlords are morally corrupt” can make you feel a bit squeamish when you’re 35 and seeking renters to help you pay your mortgage. 

There’s also a shifting line in the sand when it comes to what we consider conservative and progressive. Famed feminist Germaine Greer shocked many when she made anti-trans comments in 2015, and it goes to show that being on the front line of a progressive school of thought doesn’t mean you’ll remain there. 


Victoria University’s Head of Political Science Simon Keller told VICE political opinions of young people will change as they get older. “Perhaps they will become more economically conservative, but I am confident that they never take what we presently regard as conservative positions on sexuality and gender,” said Keller.

In the 2023 election, the age bracket with the highest percentage of voters was 65-69-year-olds.  The lowest was between 25 and 29 – young millennials and older Gen Z. 

Richard Shaw, Professor of Politics at Massey University, says “voting and not voting are habit forming.” 

“Irrespective of the size of the GenY/Z cohort, if they're not used to voting they may just stay away from the formal political process – which would mean that older generations still have influence over electoral and other outcomes,” he says.  

So, sure, our time is gonna come – but whether we take advantage of that is another question entirely. 

Rachel Barker is a writer / producer at VICE NZ in Aotearoa. You can find her @rachellydiab on IG and Letterboxd and see her film criticism on Youtube.