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  • Writer's pictureDaniela Maoate-Cox

How do I write an email to a politician's office?

Knowing who is an Honourable, who is a Right Honourable or even where to find an email address for a politician can be a bit confusing. Here we share how to nail that email and increase your chances of getting a response.


First, a little bit of context. Members of Parliament (MP) receive a lot of emails and generally this number increases with the seniority of an MP, like Party Leader, Minister, Prime Minister, or Speaker of the House. Many of these emails are people asking for something: inviting them to an event, asking for support for a specific cause, or asking them to hear their view on a bill or piece of policy - so your correspondence is up against a lot of competition.


All MPs have staff who support them in their roles and a general rule of thumb is that higher ranking MPs get more support staff. There are some MPs who monitor their own inboxes but it is important to be aware that more often the first person who sees - and reads - your email is a staff member. This doesn’t mean your email isn’t read by the MP it is sent to, it just means there’s a system for handling large amounts of correspondence.


The best emails are short and to the point, so keep in mind that if you’re attaching a document, like a formal letter, an invite or a briefing, then you don’t need to also copy and paste that into the body of your email. A well planned out attachment is one that can stand alone when it is processed by an MP’s office (that is, staff will not have to print out your covering email as well). This does not mean it is a strict rule, as you will see from the examples below.


Find the correct title for your MP


MPs can have slightly different titles depending on their role.


Right Honourable is reserved for the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House (the Governor-General and the Chief Justice also hold this title). This is often shortened to Rt Hon.


Ministers are Honourable, often shortened to Hon., and other MPs usually have their name with MP at the end. You can check the correct title for an MP on their biography page on Parliament’s website.

When in doubt, refer to them by Ms, Mrs, Dr, or Mr. for example, Dear Dr [last name], or Tēna koe Dr [last name].


Tell them why you are writing


Let them know who you are and why you’re getting in touch. For example:


“Tēna koe Minister,


I own a small business called Write to your MP that helps people contact their local representative. I’m getting in touch to invite you, in your capacity as a Member of Parliament, to be a panellist on our webinar and speak about access to democracy. We would also value some tips on the most effective ways people can get in touch with you.”


If you have an attachment, direct them to read that for more information.


“Please see the attached document for details. I hope we can find a time that is convenient with your schedule.”


If you’ve recently interacted with them or one of their colleagues, or are aware of a recent achievement (such as an election win), you can mention that too. For example:


“Tēnā koe Mr [last name],


Congratulations on your election/re-election as an MP.


Or


I recently had the opportunity to meet with your colleague, [first name | last name] MP, and would like to acknowledge them taking the time to speak with me and learn about our work.


Attachments


Getting the basics right is important so make sure you’ve attached the correct documents before sending. If you’ve written a letter you do not need to copy the contents of it into the body, just draw their attention to the letter attached. Like this:


“Tēna koe Dr Smith,


Please see the attached document outlining the view of Write to your MP on the proposed legislation for plain language.


Write to your MP is a small business that helps people contact their local representative.


Ngā mihi,


[your first and last name]

Chief Executive


And lastly, be wary of how long your attachments are; a 30 page document is a big ask for someone to read so include a summary/overview page or better yet, create a one or two page document briefly describing your organisation or cause.


Send it to the right person


All MPs have a parliament email address which you can find on Parliament’s website on their biography page, and there’s a spreadsheet of all MPs contact details you can download at the bottom of this page on Parliament’s Website.


For Ministers, you can find their contact details on the Ministerial List page of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Website. Keep in mind that Ministers’ emails are subject to the Official Information Act.


If you need more help before you contact a member of Parliament you can contact the Parliamentary Information Service.


If you’re working on a local issue and are writing to a Party Leader, Minister, or Prime Minister, consider copying in your local MP too - this is especially helpful if you have engaged with your local MP; it helps keep them in the loop.


Be sure to check the portfolio of Ministers and MPs before sending to check if your request will be relevant to them.


Sign off


The final lines of your email should thank them for their time, invite them to contact you and give information on how to find out more.


“Thank you for taking the time to consider my request. Please let me know if there is a time that suits your schedule to talk further. In the meantime, you can find out more about us at [insert website].


Ngā mihi,


[your first and last name]

[Job title if relevant]

[email]

[phone number]"


Here’s an example of a complete email,


“Tēna koe Minister,


I own a small business called Write Your MP that helps people contact their local representative. I’m getting in touch to invite you as a panellist on our webinar to speak about access to democracy and share some tips on the most effective ways people can get in touch with you.


Attached is a document with more information about our event.


Thank you for taking the time to consider my request. Please let me know if there is a time that suits your schedule to talk further. In the meantime, you can find out more about us at writetoyourmp.co.nz


Ngā mihi,


[your first and last name]

[Job title if relevant]

[email]

[phone number]”


That’s it! You’re ready to email a politician. Use our checklist below to make sure you include everything.


Emailing a politician - checklist

Here’s a quick checklist for the next time you email a politician:


  • Correct title

  • Correct email address

  • Core details like, who, what, when, where, why are included.

  • Attachments actually attached

  • Sign off and contact details.

Daniela worked as a journalist for eight years, including as the host of RNZ's show on Parliament, 'The House'. She lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and has a keen interest in the Pacific diaspora and how the unique cultural makeup in Aotearoa New Zealand impacts people's place in society.


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