Information not persuasion

This year Maori have the first chance since 2006 to choose whether they’re on the Maori or general electoral roll.

“If you are Maori and on the electoral roll, then this year you get to choose which type of electoral roll you want to vote on,” Enrolment Services national manager Murray Wicks said.

“There hasn’t been a Maori Electoral Option since 2006, so we want to make sure that Maori have access to all the information about the option and what it means before making their decision when the option period begins.

“It’s an important choice, and we want people to be confident to take part.”

The Electoral Commission is bound to present information on the options rather than persuade and says Maori organisation tasked with spreading the word should be strictly impartial.

Kiwiblog noted yesterday that one of those organisations is the Maori Council which is in the midst of legal proceedings against the government.

How impartial will it be?

Other groups, not employed by the Commission are free to persuade and they usually urge people to sign up for the Maori roll.

It would be good to see a campaign explaining the disadvantages of that and the benefits of being on the general roll.

As Tariana Turia said, Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

Maori seats not only didn’t give Maori a voice, they gave and continue to give them inferior representation because most of them are too big to service effectively and provide constituents with ready access to their MPs.

Te Tai Tonga covers 161,443 square kilometres – the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Wellington. Te Tai Hauauru is 35, 825 square kilometres in area, Ikaroa-Rawhiti covers 30,952 square kilometres and Waiariki 19,212 square kilometres.

Maori seats were created when the right to vote depended on the ownership of land. That hasn’t applied for decades and there are now more Maori MPs in general seats and on the lists than representing Maori seats.

This gives them better representation than the Maori electorates which were taken for granted until National invited the Maori Party to be a support partner in government.

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