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National Party Caucus votes to end Maori seats

National Party Caucus votes to end Maori seats

The National Party is formally adopting a policy promoted by Leader Bill English, which would bring an end to the Maori seats in Parliament.

The National Party Caucus voted to back the position at its meeting today.

"Modern Maori are highly skilled operators in our current political system, their voices are heard at every level and the Maori seats have outlived their usefulness," Mr English says.

"In 1867 the Maori Representation Act created what were described as four 'temporary' seats.

"Then in 1986, the Royal Commission on the electoral system said that under MMP there would be no need for separate Maori seats.

"It pointed out separate seats encouraged Maori MPs to look after only Maori interests and provided limited incentive for MPs in general seats to respond to Maori concerns," says Mr English.

"Under MMP, Maori representation no longer depends on Maori seats.

"At the 2001 census, 14% of the population identified themselves as Maori, right now Maori have 18 MPs, or 15% of all MPs," he says.

"More Maori than ever are in Parliament and while the Maori seats fulfilled a purpose, their time is now over

"This is part of a wider citizenship policy I plan to release later this year.

"It will reflect my view that Maori have the capacity to participate the same as any other citizen," Mr English says.

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