Abolish all race based seats and positions in central and local government.

Not only does this mean abolishing the race based Maori seats in Parliament but also getting rid of the unelected Maori Statutory Board on the Auckland Council, and other undemocratic and race based positions on local and regional councils.

This would save the ratepayers the cost of highly paid council officials (“Maori liaison officers”) whose job is to advance the interests of one race only, thus creating division, unfair advantage and resentment in communities that should be trying to integrate rather than separate.

Abolish separate Maori seats, roll

Separate political representation in parliament has existed since 1867, when the Maori Representation Act provided for the election of four Maori MPs by Maori males (including half-castes) aged 21 and over. Disputed ownership of customary Maori land that had no title meant many Maori who wanted to vote could not provide the proof to meet the electoral requirement of individual ownership of a freehold estate to the value of £25. The Act was an interim measure for five years because the Maori Land Court established in 1865 was expected to resolve title issues for Maori within that time.

The 1867 Act was extended a further five years in 1872, and extended again in 1876, this time indefinitely.

Universal suffrage, from 1893, extended voting rights to all New Zealanders, subject only to an age qualification. This meant any practical reason for separate Maori seats disappeared. But separate seats continued, and this separate representation took on a life of its own as political parties courted Maori support.

The Maori Electoral Option, introduced in 1975, allowed for electors of Maori descent to choose whether to be enrolled on the general or Maori roll. This option occurs after every census, and is the only time Maori voters can switch between the general and the Maori rolls. Those wishing to register on the Maori roll must answer a Maori-descent question, and may have only a minute trace of Maori blood.

During the 1980s, the Maori seats became linked with the Maori sovereignty movement.

The Report of the Royal Commission into the Electoral System in 1986 noted that separate representation disadvantaged Maori in a number of ways. In recommending a change from the old first-past-the-post voting system to MMP, which eventuated, this commission predicted that MMP would bring more Maori MPs to parliament, which has also eventuated. This commission recommended abolition of the Maori seats if MMP was introduced.

MMP was introduced in the 1996 election and the Maori seats stayed. Not only did they remain, pressure exerted by Maori nationalist groups meant that the number of Maori seats became tied to the number of New Zealanders electing to register on the Maori roll, creating an incentive to promote registration on the Maori roll.

The number of Maori electorates is calculated by dividing the estimate Maori electoral population by the South Island quota (The SI general electoral population divided by 16).

Several well-publicised taxpayer-funded enrolment drives increased the number of Maori seats from four to seven. In the 2011 general election, only 53 percent of the 233,568 registered on the Maori roll bothered to vote.

The 2011 election resulted in 23 MPs of Maori descent among the 121 current MPs, a 19 percent parliamentary proportion, which means that Maori are slightly over-represented relative to their population proportion. There are 16 Maori MPs in general seats.

Of the 424,000 people who identify as Maori who are enrolled to vote, 234,000 are on the Maori roll and 190,000 are on the general roll.

The National Party quietly morphed from having a policy of phasing out the separate Maori parliamentary seats to leaving it up to Maori to decide.

The Maori Party wants the Maori parliamentary seats to be entrenched in law, and wants every New Zealander classified by ethnicity, with all 18-year-olds of even remotely Maori descent placed automatically on to the Maori electoral roll so as to increase it.

1law4all says the separate Maori parliamentary seats and separate Maori roll are long past their use-by date and should be abolished.

Maori seats in local government

Separate Maori representation in local government has existed since the 2001 Bay of Plenty Regional Council (Maori Constituency Empowering) Act, a response to a push by Environment Bay of Plenty’s Maori regional representation committee for some sort of affirmative action since there were no Maori councillors at that time despite Maori constituting 28 percent of the population in the area.

Maori involvement in decision-making on the new Auckland Council created an opportunity for former Human Rights Commissioner Joris De Bres to write to all councils, in 2011, asking them to consider the question of Maori seats in their three-yearly representation review. He said Maori local government representation and Maori involvement in the decisions of the new Auckland Council as being among the top 10 race relations priorities for 2010.

In response, of 78 councils nationwide, 49 told De Bres that they had already considered the Maori seats option but had not taken it any further, and three councils – the Nelson City Council, the Wairoa District Council, and the Waikato District Council –agreed to start the process of establishing Maori seats.

Affected electors were entitled to demand a poll.

When a poll was demanded in Nelson, a 43.4 percent return in May 2012 showed 79.41 percent against the proposal and 20.22 percent for it.

Results of the official poll in Wairoa showed that only 47.3 percent of electors opted to exercise their right to vote, with 51.89 percent against and 47.95 percent for.

A similar poll held by the Waikato District Council, in April 2012, rejected separate Maori representation. Of the 12,762 (30.16 percent) of electors who voted, 10,111 were against the idea, while 2517 favoured it.

Ratepayers did not want separate Maori representation.

Voter turnout for the three Maori constituencies of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council in 2010 was between 27 percent and 41 percent, when nationwide local body election voter turnout that year was 40 percent.

Ilaw4all opposes separate Maori representation in local government as race-based affirmative action in politics.

The Auckland Maori Statutory Board

A push for Maori representation on the proposed Auckland super city started with a recommendation by the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance that two Maori members should be elected to the Auckland Council by voters who are on the parliamentary Maori Electoral Roll, and that there should be a “mana whenua” forum, the members of which will be appointed by Maori from the district of the Auckland Council.

The provision of elected Maori members of the council analogous to the Maori seat representation in parliament was dropped.

Race Relations Commissioner Joris De Bres called for dedicated Maori seats in March 2010, in a statement releasing the Human Rights Commission annual review of race relations.

The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Act 2009 set up the nine-member statutory board that must appoint a maximum of two persons to sit on each of the Auckland Council’s committees that deal with the management and stewardship of natural and physical resources

The Maori statutory board is appointed by the Maori Affairs Department but paid for by Auckland ratepayers.

Having un-elected representation of Maori on committees voting on transport or infrastructure, as well as the fact that the advisory board requested (and initially received) a $3.4-million yearly budget, sparked significant criticism, as did a Maori Statutory Board  $295-million wish list for the draft 10-year plan in 2011, and the modified version in 2012.

Just 157,500 Maori lived in the Auckland area in 2012, mostly in Manurewa-Papakura, and 85.5 percent belonged to non-Auckland tribes. The total population of Auckland was one million.

1law4all says the Auckland Maori Statutory Board must be disestablished.