Electoral Commission to blame for no increase in Maori Seats
8 October 2013
Electoral Commission must shoulder blame for lack of increase in Maori seats
The Maori Party is disappointed at this week’s announcement from the Representation Commission, that no new Maori electorate will be created following the census and the Maori Option.
“Proper investment by electoral agencies in promoting Maori engagement with Parliamentary politics could have convinced another 4% of electors to join the Maori Roll, and secured an eighth Maori seat,” said Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell.
“The Electoral Commission’s campaign did not do enough to ensure that people were fully informed of the difference between the two rolls. The feedback we received from rangatahi is that the information provided from the Electoral Commission left them feeling that they had more choices on the general roll.”
“The Electoral Commission spent around $1.5million on the Maori Option Campaign, but measured their success based on the number of times their advertisements were viewed, not on results or ensuring that the message received by whanau were transformed into action – the action of filling in the forms and sending them back in.”
“We know that many volunteers were out there filling the information gap, and door knocking to get people to fill in the forms – and that is what worked.”
“We supported a cross-party, multi-media campaign during the Maori Option to encourage Maori, whatever party they support, to “Get on Board the Maori roll”, said Te Ururoa Flavell.
“We did so because we were very dissatisfied with the Electoral Commission’s campaign, and concerned that it was not reaching the target demographic with information that would motivate Maori to enrol to vote.”
“Comments from the Labour Party, blaming a political party for the results of the Maori option, show a lack of vision, an inability to see their own place in the wider picture of Maori representation, and suggest Labour is more worried about the coming election in the Maori electorates than they are about Maori having a proper voice in Parliament,” said Mrs Turia and Mr Flavell.
“We signed a cross party letter sent to Maori organisations across the country to promote this kaupapa together as Maori representatives in Parliament. Rino Tirikatene, who has made comments this week blaming the Maori Party for the results of the Maori Option was also a signatory to this letter.”
“The Maori Party secured the future of the Maori seats through our Relationship Accord with the National Party in 2008, when National’s policy was to abolish them. As a result, the seats will be retained until Maori agree they are no longer needed.
“The Maori Party also advocates automatic enrolment of new Maori voters on the Maori roll, with the right to opt off; and we have drafted the Electoral (Automatic Registration on Maori Roll) Amendment Bill to this effect,” he said.
“The Maori Party will be making submissions on new boundaries for the current Maori seats – we think it is quite unrealistic for the whole of the South Island and part of the North Island to be represented by one MP, for example. The lack of access to Maori electorate MPs is a valid reason for Maori electors to opt onto the General roll – which reduces the number of Maori seats. The whole system works to disenfranchise the Treaty partner in Parliamentary politics.”