Maori Seats Fast Becoming Redundant

Mike’s Editorial: Maori seats fast becoming redundant

By: Mike Hosking | Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I have good news if you’re feeling Maori.

The Maori roll is open and all you need to join is the sense that something about you might be a bit Maori. Very few other things in life work this way.

Things of significance tend to require absolutes like age, proof of experience, things like that. To vote you need to not only need to be 18, you need to prove you’re 18. Same goes for driving a car, getting married, entering restricted movies. But for the Maori role, nothing as complex is necessary. If it feels right, then sign on the dotted line.

Sadly not many are which for those advocates of the roll must be a bitter disappointment. Because if they don’t get enough numbers, they don’t get another seat and their entire cause is based around boosting the Maori presence in Parliament. What I’d like to think is happening is that your average Maori has worked out that under our current system, their people have never been better represented.

Of course in a free society under any system, there is a very good argument to be made that no particular race should be given any particular advantage over another. It’s like arguing for specific seats for woman or new immigrants. Maori have always had the opportunity to run for Parliament. Why they wanted to be segregated out has always struck me as odd given they were arguing at the same time for fairness and an even hand.

But even if you had a soft spot for Maori seats under First Past the Post, how can you possibly now under MMP? Rightly or wrongly, MMP has delivered on at least one aspect of its model of representation. Minorities, both in race and party, have flourished. There have never been more small players in terms of parties. There have never been more races and minorities represented. It is a veritable potpourri in there these days. My suspicion is that the bulk of us see that and therefore any inclination we had to further segregate things out is fast disappearing.

If all you ever wanted was a fair suck of the sav, you’ve got it. Maori are involved in every aspect of political life. From list MP to electorate MP. From minor party to major party. From newbie to heavyweight. From spokesperson to Cabinet minister to leader. If access and accessibility is what you were after, Maori have got the lot.

They control things, run things, decide things and influence things. They’re in government, they’re in opposition and they are on all sides of the house. The case for further representation, by specialist or specific electoral support unavailable to other races, is now closed. Because given the reality ,it’s racist. We wouldn’t want that would we.

Photo: Edward Swift


Just found a second article on the same thing – and, printed in the Dom Post of all places. Call me suspicious, but I think something’s up.

As we all know, the Press, at least the main big publishing houses and TV channels, are organs of the state, in behaviour, if not by state ownership. They are used to sway public opinion, instill ideas and gain public support for otherwise unpopular moves on behalf of the government.

The main papers, like TV, have been very reluctant to print anything even remotely anti the treaty or the gravy train industry for a long time now. Not only that, but they print a lot of the lies told about our history by the revisionists and separatists as if they were fact.

When the National Party came back into power it was on a campaign of abolishing the Maori Seats. They then totally failed to do that, and instead went about making the whole situation worse by pandering to Maori radicals.

Now we have two articles, about the same issue, coming out at the same time, in papers that have previously refused to publish anything like these if sent in from the public.

So what are they up to? My feeling is that abolishing the Maori seats may be seen as a way to soften the public up to a variety of other things the Maori radicals want – such as entrenching the Treaty of Waitangi into our constitution, which would be a whole lot worse for the majority of Kiwis, but is what Pita Sharples and his ilk would dearly love to achieve.

Be wary, the government never gives us anything we want, without taking much more with the other hand!

Editorial: Tide may be going on Maori seats

OPINION: As voters in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate contemplate who they want to replace Parekura Horomia as their MP, they, and voters in the six other Maori seats, are being asked to make a decision that will have more long-term consequences.

For the past three months, the Electoral Commission has been running its regular census-year Maori electoral option. The exercise allows already registered voters in the seven Maori electorates to choose whether they want to be on the Maori or the general roll – the only opportunity they get to switch – and will determine the number of Maori seats for the next two elections. The results so far have been intriguing.

The latest available figures show that since the process began on March 25, there have been 4830 new enrolments from voters identifying as Maori. Of those, 3357 opted for the Maori roll and 1473 for the general roll. At the same time, 6774 people switched from the general to the Maori roll – just 47 more than the number going the other way.

That compares to the result of the last Maori electoral option in 2006, when 14,294 Maori voters switched from the general to the Maori roll and 7294 went the other way.

Not surprisingly, the Maori Party is alarmed. It had high hopes that this year’s electoral option would deliver at least one more Maori seat for the 2014 and 2017 elections, but is now warning that defections to the general roll could yet see the number reduced.

In response, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell has prepared a private member’s bill that would require all those who identified themselves as Maori when they registered to vote to be placed on the Maori roll. Those who want to be on the general roll will be able to opt out, but it is not clear when.

If it is at the time of enrolment, then Mr Flavell’s bill, should it be drawn from the ballot, would change nothing, as Maori voters already get to decide which roll they want to be on when they register. If it is only during the electoral option, then Maori voters who want to be on the general roll would have to wait up to five years to switch, something that would be a grossly unfair denial of their right to choose.

There is no denying that the Maori seats have historically ensured political representation for Maori. For many decades since their inception in 1867, they were virtually the only vehicle for Maori to enter Parliament.

However, the Maori Party confuses Maori representation with the survival of a party built on racial lines when it says the seats are the key to Maori having a political voice. That stopped being so with the advent of MMP, which has brought assemblies that much better reflect New Zealand society.

Today, at least 19 of the 121 MPs are of Maori descent – almost 16 per cent of the total, and slightly higher than the proportion of Maori in the general population at the last census.

Therefore, while a move away from the Maori to the general roll might threaten the existence of a party dedicated to Maori interests, it does not threaten Maori representation. If anything, it is a positive sign that more and more Maori are identifying themselves, for political purposes, as New Zealanders first, and recognising that they share the same interests and concerns as Kiwis of all races.

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