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Maori option should be open all the time

3 April 2006

Maori electoral option should be open all the time - Greens

Maori voters who are not already on the Maori electoral roll should think seriously about making the change while the Maori electoral option is open, according to Green Party Maori Affairs Spokesperson Metiria Turei.

Every five years, the Maori electoral option is opened so that Maori voters can choose whether or not to register on the Maori roll. The number of voters on the Maori roll determines the number of Maori seats in Parliament.

"Obviously the decision to move to the Maori roll is an individual one which Maori voters should weigh up carefully," Mrs Turei says.

"But the opportunity to change from the general roll to the Maori roll only comes up once every five years, and the number of voters on the Maori roll directly effects the number of Maori seats in Parliament, so it is a very important issue.

"I strongly believe that the Maori electoral option should be open all the time, not just every five years. The fact that Maori are forced to wait for five years to change from one roll to the other is frankly undemocratic.

"A Maori voter might make the decision to move to the Maori roll might because they are unsatisfied with the representation they are getting from candidates on the general roll. Yet because the option only opens every five years, they are forced to stay on the general roll for the next election. This seriously undermines the democratic process and highlights the structural inequalities for Maori of the Westminster system we operate under.

"The Green Party urges Maori to take this issue seriously when considering the Maori electoral option this time around. It's not just an issue of whether you identify as Maori or Pakeha, but also one of democratic rights," Mrs Turei says.


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