This resource was developed by ActionStation (an independent, crowdfunded, community campaigning organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand) to support community activists with their petitions. Please note that some of this information is specific to the New Zealand parliamentary system and the OurActionStation petition platform. However a number of the steps here will be relevant in other jurisdictions and petition methods. A printer friendly PDF can be downloaded from the box at the bottom of the page.
Process for presenting a petition
This is specifically for petitions directed to Parliament which has an official process for but can be adapted for other targets, such as Councils or corporations. For your local council you will need to do a little research to find out if they have an official process as each council differs.
Step 1 Set a target and timeline
At least a month out from when you want to deliver it set a target for the number of signatures or have a deadline for when the petition needs to be delivered by.
Step 2 Establish who at Parliament will receive your petition
About a month out from when you want to deliver it establish who at Parliament will receive your petition.
- In the first instance, think of who has a role that is relevant to your issue. It could be someone from any political party. It’s good to invite the Minister in charge of the portfolio but be aware they will often decline an invite. If that person is unavailable or unwilling, you can also seek to deliver a petition to your local MP, as they are your elected representative.Remember to ask one at a time, and wait for a reply. You only need one.
- Send an email to them, introducing yourself and your campaign. Ask if they’re willing to accept your petition, and to table it in Parliament (this means it is officially recognised in Parliament).
- Once you have one person confirmed to receive the petition, you can invite other MPs to attend the event. However you need to make it clear to them that they will just be attending to express support, not to directly receive the petition.
Step 3 Finalise the practical details
- To have the petition officially accepted at NZ Parliament it needs to be reviewed by the Tables Office. Email [email protected] with the wording of the ‘ask’ of the petition. Keep in mind it needs to ask the House of Representatives to do something specific.
- If you’re presenting the petition at Parliament steps you’ll need to book the space first – email the Speaker’s office at [email protected] (find out more info here).
- Another option if it’s a more private event is to book a time at the MP’s office inside Parliament, or at another venue.
If it’s your local MP you can deliver the petition at their local office.
- Once the time and venue is booked then confirm details with your MP/decision maker.
For Australian details see this government guide to the petition process.
Step 4 Create an online event page
At least a week out from delivery date follow these easy steps to create an online event page on OurActionStation.
- 1. Make sure you’re logged in then head to your petition page
- 2. Click Manage
- 3. Head to the top menu and click ‘Organise Events’
- 4. Click on Set Up an Event
- 5. Fill in the event details and hit save – make sure you include plenty of detail!
- 6. Share with your supporters
- You could alternatively set up a Facebook event, which is connected to people’s social media networks, though remember not everyone uses Facebook.
Step 5 Remind your supporters
Through the OurActionStation petition page, email and remind your supporters with the event details and link so they can RSVP online. Follow these easy steps to email your supporters:
- Include why the event is important, when and where it will happen and ask them to share it.
- Once you’ve done that, be sure to invite friends, family, neighbours and colleagues to join you. Invite your networks via email or Facebook, put up flyers around your local area and reach out to other community organisations. Spread the word!
Step 6 Confirm a photographer
Having a visual record of your delivery is really important. You can use those images to report back to your supporters, for media, and as a record to use for all future communications.
Step 7 Create an agenda
Plan what will happen (will there be speeches? Who will host it? Will there be any props or signs? Do you need a loudspeaker? At what point do you hand it over? Who/when for media? Visual stunts? There is a template included at the bottom of this document.
Step 8 Invite media
You can send a press release to news desks and call selected journalists who may be interested in your issue.
Step 9 Maximise attendance
Send a reminder to all invitees (including media and supporters), to ensure maximum attendance.
Step 10 Get your petition ready
Download your petition for the day before, or first thing in the morning. You will have a PDF with names and postcodes which you can organise to print.
- To print:
- On OurActionStation, login and head to your petition page
- On the top menu on the ‘Manage Petition’ page, click ‘Deliver Petition’
- Click on ‘Download printable petition PDF’
- This will include petition text, people’s names and post-codes, but none of their private contact information.
You can also get creative here – present in a box, or let your imagination run wild. Think about how it will look in photos.
Step 11 Report back
Within two days of delivery make sure you report back. Share your story with your supporters via an email, by social media etc as appropriate. Include personal feelings, thank yous, and possible next steps.
Step 12 Say thanks!
Send a thank you email to whoever received your petition.
- Made contact with your MP’s office
- Chose a time and date for the delivery
- Invited your supporters to the delivery
- Devised a good photo opportunity (for example, a colourful stunt)
- Created an agenda
- Sent a press release to local media inviting them to the delivery
- Ready for petition delivery fun!
Agenda – an example
- You and anyone else in your organising team arrive at designated meeting place
- Participants arrive (~2mins)
- Hand out signs and any props
- Introduce campaign leader
- Explain how the event will run and brief them on any special details
- Organise participants for photos and media (~5mins)
- Start a few chants, pose for photos and chat to media (~5mins)
- Spokespeople address attendees, tell them why this issue is important to you (~2-5mins)
- Representatives hand over petition to MP (make sure to get a photo) (~2mins)
- MP speaks regarding the issue (make sure they include what will happen next with the petition) (~5mins)
- Spokespeople sum up and thank people, take any last minute photos (~5mins)
- Wrap up and congratulate each other – you just acted as a representative of your community.
On [insert date] I’ll be delivering the petition to [insert cause] to the member for [insert the name of the electorate].
Thank you for all your support so far, as we near the home-straight it’d mean so much to me if you could help me out in two ways.
1. Come along to the petition delivery this [insert day]! This way we can show that the names on the petition are real people, who really care.
Here are the details:
When: [insert time and d
Where: [insert location (include directions on how to get there)]
RSVP: reply to this email to let me know you’ll be there!
Bring: friends and family! [what else would you like them to bring? Placards, umbrellas, costumes?]
2. Can you take two minutes now to spread the word about the petition by posting the link on Facebook or Twitter, or forwarding the link to everyone you know in the area? Before we deliver our petition, let’s make it as big as possible to show our Government just how many of their constituents want to see them commit to [relevant to petition]. [insert link to the petition]
Thank you for everything you do and hopefully I’ll see you at the petition delivery!
A printer friendly PDF can be downloaded from the box at the bottom of the page. See also How to Get More Petition Signatures. For information about an alternative petition platform see Using Megaphone to organise workers (or why you should care about online petitions).