Friday, June 7, 2013

Mike Butler: Young Maori wooed for eighth seat

The Maori roll is more appealing to new voters, according to an Electoral Commission progress report, while the number of seasoned Maori voters moving to the Maori roll is roughly the same as those who leave it. The progress reports are part of the 2013 Maori Electoral Option which enables Maori voters to choose whether they want to be on the general or Maori rolls.

The option runs after each census. Once enrolled on one or the other, Maori voters can’t change until the next option. The Maori Council delivered a public awareness programme through a contract with the Electoral Commission in a number of areas.

Maori-identity style television adverts may have contributed to statistics from April 25 to May 24, that show 5059 new Maori voters have signed up to the Maori roll, while 2098 chose the general option.

In April, 5313 people switched from the general roll to the Maori roll, while 5435 moved from the Maori roll to general. And in May 6727 people moved from the Maori roll to general, while 6774 people switched from the general roll to the Maori roll. In that period, 75 more moved to rather than from the general roll. (1)

A higher proportion of Maori enrolling on the Maori roll will increase the number of Maori seats, the number of which has gone from four to seven over the years and has remained at seven after the 2001 and 2006 censuses.

The slight move to the general roll in May was unusual and prompted the Maori Party to warn that one Maori seat may go if more don’t sign up.

According to political commentator David Farrar, some Maori decide to go on the Maori roll to boost the number of seats. Some may decide on the basis of which electorate they wish to vote in. They may prefer to vote in a marginal general seat where their vote can have more impact than say a safe Maori seat. (2)

In 2006, the Maori descent population was 721,431; the Maori electoral population was 417,081; total numbers on Maori roll were 222,362; total numbers of Maori on general roll were 163,615; while the total numbers on general roll were 2,826,726.

There are seven Maori electorates.

Enrolment figures, as at November 2012, show approximately 424,000 people who identify themselves as Maori are enrolled to vote. A total of 234,000 are on the Maori roll and 190,000 are on the general roll. (3)

The formula for setting the number of Maori electorates -- the estimated Maori electoral population is divided by the South Island quota (The SI general electoral population divided by 16) to calculate the number of seats.

To get an eighth seat in 2006, 432,000 were required in the Maori electoral population. That means an extra 3.5 percent would have been needed or an extra 15,000.

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

Farrar, who runs opinion polls, noted that: “Research has shown attitudes are very different amongst Maori on the general roll and Maori on the Maori roll. In a very general sense, Maori on the Maori roll tend to identify foremost as Maori while Maori on the general roll tend to be more self-identifying as New Zealanders who happen to have some Maori descent. That far from applies to all, but previous research has shown this. Also the issues of importance vary too. Maori on Maori roll are more likely to cite treaty issues as important while Maori on the general roll are more likely to cite jobs, economy etc.” (4)

In the 2011 general election, 70 MPs came from electorates and 51 from party lists; 3,070,847 people were enrolled to vote, with over 2.2 million votes cast and a turnout of 74.21 percent; 453 electorate candidates were nominated; and 13 parties with 471 list candidates contested the party vote.

The push to get an eighth Maori electorate would depend on signing up 18-year-olds based on the notion that it is cool to vote as a Maori. The total number of enrolments will be known after July 24, 2013.

The existence of a separate Maori roll is a relic from the 19th century, from before 1893, when the right to vote was extended to all citizens over the age of 21. At that time, any practical reason for separate Maori seats disappeared.

New Zealand was the first nation in the world to achieve universal (male and female) suffrage. Where universal suffrage exists, the right to vote is not restricted by race, sex, belief, wealth or social status.

1. Maori electoral option, Electoral Commission.
2. Will there be an eighth Maori seat?
3. Maori electoral option, Electoral Commission.
4. Will there be an eighth Maori seat?


Anonymous said...

How very sad. Why on earth do we have separate Maori seats? Why a seperat Maori roll? How unfortunate that successive governments promote racism the way they do, I guess it's all about getting votes. Lets rid New Zealand of black and white politics. Lets rid New Zealand of sepretism, let all New Zealaners simply be New Zealanders regardless of skin colour!

Mike Butler said...

Separate political representation 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. The Act was deemed necessary in the mid-19th century when the right to vote was based on individual ownership of a freehold estate to the value of £25. 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. Some Maori could supply this proof and some did vote. It is worthwhile to note that the 1867 Act gave Maori men a non-property right to vote 12 years before European males, which occurred in 1879 through the Qualification of Electors Act.

The 1867 Act established four Maori electorates as an interim measure for five years. Parliament had the view that the Maori Land Court established in 1865 would 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. Maori males who met the property qualification were entitled to vote in both Maori and European constituencies. When, in 1893, universal suffrage extended voting rights to all New Zealanders, subject only to an age qualification, any practical reason for separate Maori seats had disappeared.

Anonymous said...

If Maori separatist parties were compelled to stand their candidates in general seats, they would attract a similar level of support asother single-issue kooks, like the NZ Nazi Party or the Commununist Party of New Zealand (and its subsequent fringe offshoots).

It is only through separate Maori seats that the racial tail can continue wagging the majority dog as it does.