Writing to your Local MP, Councillor or Government Minister
You are entitled to write or phone your elected representatives any time you wish. You can let Ministers know your feelings on a topic by writing to them too. You can get the current email or postal addresses on Councillors from your local or regional council website, or by phoning their call centre. Members of Parliament's contact details
As with any letter or email that would you like to receive, be polite. Making a point or disagreeing with someone, does not mean being nasty. Have your facts straight - or if you are asking a question, have the facts that the person needs in order to provide an answer.
- Stick to one main topic; don't try to say everything in one letter
- Be polite and objective
- Educate; don't assume that the person receiving the letter or email knows anything about horses or your topic
- Keep it simple and as short as possible
- Provide a solution, suggestion or clear question(s). Don't just ramble on - what do you want?
- Don't just write about something you personally want; what are the benefits and to whom?
Like everything the more practice you get, the better your letters and emails will get.
So get writing!
Like media releases, there is a formula to writing successful letters to newspapers and magazines.
- Space restrictions mean your letter should be 150 words or less, 2-3 concise paragraphs.
- Reference a previous article, letter or current topic at the start of your letter e.g. "I read with great interest the editorial/letter/article (put title here), (date printed) in which (author) said that . . .".
- Stick to one idea as the theme of your letter. Trying to cover multiple ideas is too confusing and tends to make your letter too long.
- Do not use personal attacks or defamatory language. Explain why a previous letter or article is incorrect, or provide additional information.
- Always use facts, figures and statistics when you have them. But only use one or two numbers in your letter, too many can be confusing.
Preparing a Petition
If you are really wanting change, and cannot see anyway forward, a petition may be the answer. You can petition local or regional Councils on matters, most agencies, and parliament.
- Petitioning local Council is often successful if it is done in conjunction with submissions, or when a specific issue comes to public attention e.g. The horse riders of Bay of Plenty presented a successful petition to oppose a new bylaw that stopped them using a favourite beach.
- Petitioning Parliament (government) is a more formal process and has its own set of rules. You can find a guide to this type of petition here ... (pdf)