The Policy idea competition

Politics is the contest of ideas. Ahead of the 2020 election, we want to hear yours. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to change New Zealand for the better and why?

What would you do to change New Zealand for the better? 

Elections are our opportunity to decide who gets to form a government and make important decisions about how the country is run. Parties and candidates present their visions for New Zealand, and voters get to have their say. 

One way parties appeal to voters is by announcing policies: their plans for what they would do if voters elected them into government. Policy ideas might be based on big picture beliefs about how the world should work, or specific actions to improve people’s everyday lives. Policies might arise from expert advice, or in response to popular movements and protests, or from whatever a politician feels is in the best interests of the country or their constituents.

Wherever a policy comes from, it all starts with an idea. Ahead of the 2020 election, we want to hear yours. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to change New Zealand for the better and why?


The key points

  • We want to hear your policy ideas. If you were Prime Minister, what one thing would you do to change New Zealand for the better and why?
  • You can enter an idea individually or as a group (including as a classroom).
  • Your idea can be submitted as a short essay (up to 300 words) or as a short video (up to 90 seconds)
  • Your entries are due by 5pm, Friday 25 September, and can be submitted at:
  • Winners will be announced in the second week of October, with winning policy ideas published on The Spinoff and eligible for cash prizes.

Read the full guidelines below for more details.


How will my entry be judged?

We have a great judging panel to hear your ideas:

  • Steven Adams. Steven plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder in the National Basketball Association. Steven is a huge supporter of young New Zealanders through Sports Pathways and his Steven Adams Camps for school-age basketball players. 
  • Mihingarangi Forbes. Mihi is a multi-award winning journalist and broadcaster with a focus on Māori perspectives. Mihi presents the weekly current affairs show The Hui and founded the Aotearoa Media Collective. 
  • Michelle Dickinson MNZM (‘Nanogirl’). Michelle spent her career engineering nanotechnology solutions for the tech industry, and is now a bestselling author, television presenter and creator of Nanogirl. Michelle is passionate about creating innovative ways for everyone to have a positive relationship with science and technology.
  • Marilyn Waring CNZM. Marilyn is a New Zealand feminist, former politician, author, academic, and activist for female human rights and environmental issues. Since 2006, Waring has been a Professor of Public Policy at AUT in Auckland, New Zealand.
  • Tim Brown. Tim is the CEO and creative vision behind Allbirds. His experience as a World Cup soccer player for New Zealand led him to think about things on a grand scale, whether that be crafting shoes or running a business. Tim is constantly driven by the desire to do things better. 

Our judges will consider three criteria when reading your policy ideas:

Impact: Does the policy idea address a clear problem that is important to your community? Would the policy idea have a meaningful impact on the problem? 

Vision: Is the policy idea a creative solution to the problem? Does the policy idea offer a unique vision that is different to anything currently proposed by the political parties? 

Consequences: Have you taken into account all the consequences of your policy idea, both positive and negative? 


What could I win?

Our judges will select an individual winner and a group or classroom winner, as well as a selection of highly commended entries. Finalists can win a range of great prizes: 

  • Winning and highly commended ideas will be published on The Spinoff
  • The judges’ favourite policy idea from an individual will win $150
  • The judges’ favourite policy idea from a group or classroom will win $150
  • All finalists will win a pair of Allbirds, the world's most comfortable shoes
  • Highly commended ideas can win a range of spot prizes, including vouchers from Unity Books, boxes of sugar free cola and kombucha from Karma Drinks, clothing from YOUKNOW, and books and mugs from The Spinoff

If you or your organisation would like to donate a prize, get in touch with us at


How do I submit my entry?

You can enter the Policy competition at

If you’re entering a written idea, you can upload as a file (e.g. .docx or .pdf) or copy and paste your idea into the form. If you’re entering a video, you will need to upload your idea to YouTube and send us the link. 

Entries close at 5:00pm, Friday 25 September 2020. We can't accept late submissions, sorry!  

Before you submit, you’ll be asked whether you are okay with our terms of entry. 


Terms of entry

We accept entries from all intermediate and secondary students who are currently studying or eligible to study at New Zealand intermediate and secondary schools, including students at Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu. We might ask for proof of your eligibility. 

Our judge’s decisions are final.

We may publish your policy idea, your first name, your school, and your school year on the Policy website and The Spinoff. 

We may use your policy idea for further marketing purposes, such as in media coverage about the Policy competition, but we will not share your personal details with anyone else unless you give us permission.

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