A teenage movement that began as a Facebook group will on Monday argue in the High Court that the voting age should be lowered to 16.
The Make it 16 group says they're looking for a declaration from the powers-that-be that banning people that young from voting is inconsistent with New Zealand law.
"We're able to leave school to work full-time, decide what medical treatments we get and consent to sex," spokesperson Isobel Smith, 17, told The AM Show on Monday.
"There's a whole lot of things we're trusting our young people with currently, so we believe it wouldn't be too difficult to ask them to vote and that they're mature enough to do that."
Make it 16 treasurer Liam Barnes told Newshub if 16-year-olds can work full-time and pay tax, they should get a say in how much, as well as how it's spent.
"You pay tax with your job at 16, yet you don't have the right to vote. It seems a bit inconsistent."
The Electoral Act says "every adult person" is entitled to vote (with a few restrictions, such as being a long-term prisoner), defining an adult as someone who's at least 18 years old. But the Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of age for anyone 16 or older.
"By setting the voting age at 18 in the Local Electoral and Electoral Acts, we believe that there's an inconsistency there," said Smith.
Barnes said while any decision made by the High Court this time around wouldn't affect the 2020 election, it might set in motion changes for 2023.
New Zealand would hardly be the first country to extend voting rights to 16-year-olds - Cuba, Brazil, Scotland, Ethiopia, Ecuador, Austria and Nicaragua are among those ahead of us in that regard.
"We've seen in other countries that when the voting age is lowered, people do turn out to vote," said Smith.
"I believe in the Scottish referendum, a staggering 75 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds voted, which is currently a lot larger than the numbers were seeing in 18- to 21-year-olds here in New Zealand.
"We're hoping that lowering the voting age will mean people develop the habit of voting from a young age and continue that for the rest of their lives."
Scotland lowered its voting age for the 2014 referendum on whether it should remain a part of the UK. Around 80 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds enrolled to vote, of which about 75 percent voted - compared to 54 percent of enrolled 18- to 24-year-old enrolled voters.
At the 2017 general election here in New Zealand, 69 percent of enrolled 18- to 24-year-olds cast a vote - more than the 25- to 29-year-old group.
Asked if 16-year-olds had the mental maturity and knowledge to vote, Smith said lowering the voting age would likely spark the introduction of comprehensive civics education.
"We're able to leave school to work full-time, decide what medical treatments we get and consent to sex. There's a whole lot of things we're trusting our young people with currently, so we believe it wouldn't be too difficult to ask them to vote and that they're mature enough to do that."
The Green Party is the highest-profile mainstream political party in favour of lowering the age to 16.
"We let them leave school, we let them get a job and pay tax, so in fact, it's probably unfair those young people have no say in the representative democracy that they live in," spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman told Newshub last year.
Labour, which polls suggest might govern alone after the October election, has said it was not part of its coalition agreement with New Zealand First. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - one of the youngest Prime Ministers New Zealand has ever had - wouldn't reveal if she was for or against the idea. National is opposed, spokesperson Nicola Wilis saying youth can have their say in other ways.
"That includes presenting to select committees, bringing petitions forward... it includes lobbying and petitioning their local MPs and Members of Parliament, it includes the right to protest. So I'd argue that youth should and do have a voice, but a vote isn't necessary."
Willis said it was not because young voters would likely vote Greens or Labour instead of her party.
"Absolutely not," said Willis. "I think there's a wonderful right of passage. You turn 18 and you're an adult, you're recognised as such by society and you have that right to vote."