Thursday, 30 October 2008

Maori Party result could decide fate of MMP

A clean sweep of all Maori electorate seats by the Maori Party may not be the foregone conclusion that many media commentators are betting on.

A Maori TV poll of the Te Tai Tonga seat (the entire South Island and a bit of Wellington) shows Labour's Mahara Okeroa holding a 10% lead over his Maori Party rival.

Okeroa (dubbed the "invisible MP" in the south) had 49% support of decided voters, with the Maori Party's Rahui Katene in second place with 39% support. However the poll found that 23% of those surveyed were undecided/don't know on their electorate candidate vote.

Maori Television has two more electorate polls to come, and both are in seats where veteran Labour MPs are fighting tough battles.

The channel's poll for Hauraki Waikato is due out next Monday (November 3) during the Native Affairs programme, and will give an indication of whether Labour's Nanaia Mahuta (who currently holds the seat of Tainui) can hold on against the challenge from the Maori Party's Angeline Greensill.

The final poll from Maori TV will also be now released on Monday night, showing the standings in the seat of Ikaroa-Rawhiti, where Maori Affairs minister Parekura Horomia is up against veteran broadcaster Derek Fox.

The number of electorates the Maori Party manage to win could be crucial in the final count after this election.
Rolling polls put the Maori Party's nationwide support at around 2.5%, entitling them to just 3 seats. That could create an overhang of 4 seats if the Maori Party did win all 7 Maori electorates, badly distorting the proportionality of Parliament under New Zealand's MMP system.

However winning just 5 of those seats, and increasing their party vote slightly could reduce the Maori Party's overhang to just 1 seat, the same as in the current Parliament.

I hope that voters supporting Maori Party candidates this election have the courage of their convictions to cast their Party Vote for the Maori Party as well, to reduce the overhang.
The debate over the continued existence of "Maori seats" has less to do with "racism" as many people try to portray it... but rather to do with the fact that setting aside separate seats for one racial group means an increased ability to affect the proportionality of Parliament... ie. messing with the whole "all votes are equal" theory of MMP.

The Maori electorates were introduced way back in 1867, when it was extremely difficult for Maori to vote (people needed to own a certain value of land to qualify to vote, but most Maori held land under common title, rather than individual title).

The bill introducing separate Maori seats was brought by Napier MP Donald McLean, who "explicitly intended his bill as a temporary measure (5 years), giving specific representation to Maori until they adopted European customs of land ownership."

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  1. Dave Says:

    The Maori seats have nothing to do with affecting the proportionality of parliament. That's just silly saying they do. Proportionality is only affected if a party gets more than its share of seats than its party vote entitles it to. The electorate that party happens to be in - Maori or general - is irrelevant.