Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mike Butler: No-vote and Maori seats relevance

Preliminary results of the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election are unsurprising with Labour candidate Meka Whaitiri taking nearly double the votes of the runner-up in a poll on a sunny day marked by low voter turnout. The big Maori no-vote could be seen as a message that the sun is setting on separate Maori seats.

The death of Labour’s Parekura Horomia one month ago vacated the seat that was believed to be held by the big guy’s personality but turned out to be a Labour stronghold.

Meka Whaitiri grew up in Whakatu, Hastings. She started work at the local freezing works, went on to complete a Masters degree in Education from Victoria University and was most recently chief executive of Ngati Kahungunu. Whaitiri is affiliated to Ngati Kahungunu and Rongowhakaata.

Entertainer Te Hamua Nikora of the Mana Party was runner-up after a campaign that brought gangster-looking black 4WDs flying big Mana Party flags to protests in front of boarded-up Housing NZ properties through the electorate.

None of the candidates displayed great understanding of how to address the key issue for Maori in the area, that of unemployment. All said it was important, but all energetically opposed mining and oil exploration without offering any alternative to create jobs.

Voters could see through the Mana bribe of low-or no-deposit housing for Maori paid for by the government.

Only 35 percent of those enrolled in Ikaroa-Rawhiti showed up. The last by-election for a Maori seat was in Te Tai Tokerau in 2011, where the turnout was 41 percent.

A disappointing result for the Maori Party coincides with a leadership struggle although the Labour Party has its own leadership questions.

The by-election took place while those of Maori descent had the option of deciding whether to register on the general or Maori rolls. The option closes on July 31.

Preliminary results from April and May show first-time Maori voters opting for the Maori roll while slightly more experienced voters are shifting to the general roll.

Of the 10, 519 people who voted, Meka Whaitiri, Labour, took 4368 votes; Te Hamua Nikora, Mana, 2607; Na Raihania, Maori Party, 2104; Marama Davidson, Green Party, 1188 votes; Michael Appleby, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, 161 votes; Maurice Wairau, Independent, 27; and Adam Holland, Independent, 13 votes.

Final results will be available on July 10.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Its really pathetic that a position of MP, potentially a cabinet seat and a major power broker as in MMP can be elected by just over 4,000 votes.
Its time to abolish the racist Maori seats. Who is a Maori anyway. My children are 1/16th Maori and are as 'white' and the majority of other Kiwis, they certainly don't see themselves as 'Maori' just proud Kiwis, yet they constantly get bombarded with mail begging them to go on the Maori roll.