Do we really need Maori seats?

I have long thought that we didn’t need or want to have race-based seats in parliament. In the 90s I broached this with several MPs but only one was honest enough to say why National would never do anything about them. That was because if all those voters ended up in general seats then National would lose seats like East Coast, Rotorua and Bay of Plenty.

With the election of Marama Davidson to the co-leadership of the Green party, David Farrar points out something very interesting:

The election of Davidson is interesting from a Maori perspective. Four of the five parliamentary parties now have a Maori leader. Only Labour do not.

Three of the five parties also have a Maori deputy leader.

In fact of the nine MPs who have leadership roles in parties, only two are not Maori – James Shaw and Jacinda Ardern. End of quote.

Hobson’s Pledge also has something to say about Maori seats:

With the census done and dusted, citizens of Maori descent may now choose whether to vote on either the Maori or general roll.

Heavy promotion by the Maori Party in 2013, the last time Maori Electoral Option was open, resulted in 55 percent of the Maori voting age population opting for the Maori roll, with the remainder on the general roll.

The separate Maori seats have had a fraught history since they were set up in 1867, when extending the franchise to all Maori males aged 21 and over was a radical departure from the norm of linking political rights with property ownership.

From 1893 until 1975, those with more than half Maori descent were not allowed to vote in a European electorate, and those of less than half Maori descent did not qualify to vote in a Maori electorate and had to vote in a European electorate.

In 1993, the Maori electoral option was revised to base the number of Maori seats on the numbers registering on the Maori roll.

Subsequently, the proportion of all Maori on the Maori roll increased from 40 percent to 58 percent between 1991 (the last option before the Mixed Member Proportional Representation voting system took effect) and 2006.

The general election in 2017 resulted in 29 of the 120 seats in Parliament being occupied by MPs of Maori descent. With just seven Maori seats, 22 of these Maori-descent MPs are on the general roll. 

Hobson’s Pledge believes political rights should be based on citizenship, not ethnicity, and wants a binding referendum on scrapping separate Maori electorates. End of quote.

It seems MMP has delivered more for Maori than race-based seats. The only thing race-based seats are delivering right now is seven seats for the Labour party.

I think it is time for a conversation about Maori seats. I imagine that the Labour people and the left-wing will say that those other Maori MPs aren’t the right sort of Maori.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.

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