NZ First squirms over Maori seats abolition

By   /   July 20, 2017  /   8 Comments

TDB recommends Voyager - Unlimited internet @home as fast as you can get

I was a little surprised when NZ First leader Winston Peters announced that a binding referendum on the abolition of the Maori seats and reducing the size of Parliament would be bottom line issues for him. It is impossible for Labour and the Greens to agree to these terms. That means NZ First is saying that they will only form a government with National – assuming they agree.

I was a little surprised when NZ First leader Winston Peters announced that a binding referendum on the abolition of the Maori seats and reducing the size of Parliament would be bottom line issues for him.

It is impossible for Labour and the Greens to agree to these terms. That means NZ First is saying that they will only form a government with National – assuming they agree. Abolition of the Maori seats is officially National’s policy but they have not moved to do so because of the fear of the huge political backlash that would be provoked from nearly all of Maoridom.

This policy, however, reduces NZ First bargaining power post-election which doesn’t make sense. Don’t be surprised if Winston finds a way to back off this policy. He has already run into opposition within his own party on the issue.

Maori seats were introduced when only male private property owners could vote and Maori generally still possessed property collectively. At the time there were only 4 Maori seats to the colonists 72 when Maori were around a quarter of the population.

Until 1975 Maori had to vote in the Maori seats if they were deemed over 50% Maori. Those with less than 50% Maori blood had to vote in the “European” electoral seats. Only those deemed exactly 50/50 could choose which roll to go on. The 1975 change gave that right to all those of Maori descent.

A law change in 1993 allowed the number of Maori seats to be determined by the number of people who enrolled as electors on the Maori roll. At the time twice as many Maori voters were enrolled per electoral seat as were in the non-Maori electorates. This number of Maori electorates increased to seven in 2002 and has remained at this number. Around 55% of Maori elect to go on the Maori roll.

The existence of the Maori seats is now seen as part of the special rights of the indigenous population. Maori have used these seats to reward and punish political parties if they felt their interests were being betrayed. Ironically NZ First was the beneficiary of a backlash against Labour in 1993 and again in 1996. The Maori Party won most seats in 2008 after Labour extinguished possible legal rights over the foreshore and seabed.

Until the 1996 election under MMP only one or two Maori were ever elected outside the Maori seats. A significant number of Maori were elected in list places in MMP elections since then but few Maori were selected by the major parties for winnable electorate seats. The 2008 election saw no Maori elected in an electorate seat other than the Maori seats.

Maori consider the Maori seats a necessary part of the protection they need against a society marked by racist discrimination. Any attempt to abolish them will be met by fierce resistance from Maori. It is possible that not even Winston Peters will want to unleash that tornado.

***
Want to support this work? Donate today
***
Follow us on Twitter & Facebook
***

About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

8 Comments

  1. WILD KATIPO says:

    Mike Hosking:

    ” Most New Zealanders could not, should not and would not stomach Winston Peters as PM ” …

    Now ask yourselves,… why would a neo liberal right wing National party sycophant like Mike Hosking be trying to influence public opinion with a statement like this ….

    • Priss says:

      “Now ask yourselves,… why would a neo liberal right wing National party sycophant like Mike Hosking be trying to influence public opinion with a statement like this ….”

      Some things are unappealing to BOTH Left and Right, Katipo.

    • countryboy says:

      I can tell you why hoskings is saying etc…

      It’s a psychological game play.
      It’s exactly what I’d expect hoskings to say about peters at this time.
      It’s a comment/statement that’s meant to keep us off balance re peters lest we figure out the game peters and his neo liberal puppet masters have been playing with us for years. peters wasn’t seen having a wee sit down with brash because, “Hey, nice day! And look? New pinstripes, now, break bread with the enemy ’cause I like bread…”

      A man died (was killed?) another wrote a book, the SIS went into full Deep State, the BNZ was bailed out with your money then sold to Australia and peters came out of nowhere and started bellowing ‘ inquiry ! ‘ Lets have an inquiry ! ? Which, of course, came up with nothing. Surprise, surprise.

      I truly can’t believe you’ve not figured him out yet?

      @ Mike Treen? Did you really think peters was being genuine all this time??

      I’m amazed… really. peters has played a vital role by keeping National ‘in’ as government and protecting poor old Labours parasitic neo liberals safe now that they’ve abandoned the blead out host that is Labour and hatched into ACT. They’re fucked though because like the Spanish Inquisition, no one saw the internet coming.

      The deeply troubling thing for me is that I know I’m not wrong but would love to be proven otherwise for the sake of a sound nights sleep.

  2. esoteric pineapples says:

    The fact that we’ve never had an elected Maori Prime Minister says a lot too

  3. I was a little surprised when NZ First leader Winston Peters announced that a binding referendum on the abolition of the Maori seats and reducing the size of Parliament would be bottom line issues for him. It is impossible for Labour and the Greens to agree to these terms. That means NZ First is saying that they will only form a government with National – assuming they agree.

    Precisely the same thought occurred to me as well, Mike.

    If the Nats also agree to re-enter Pike River Mine, then it’s a fore-gone conclusion: Bill English will lead the led National-led coalition government.

    I think Winston Peters has given as clear a signal as he has ever done as to who his post-election preferred coalition partner is.

    • Jack Ramaka says:

      Will not be National, evidently NZF are poised to take over Labour into
      No 2 position in the polls, you heard it first on TDB.

      NZF will decide who it’s coalition partners will be not the other way around.

      • Priss says:

        And we the voters have no say in the matter, Jack? That’s why my vote will NEVER go to NZF.

        I prefer to know what I’m voting for, thank you very much.