Boosting Maori political participation crucial

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The Labour Maori Caucus is calling on whanau, hapu and iwi around the country to work together to increase the number of Maori signing up to the Maori Electoral Option says Associate Maori Affairs spokesperson, Rino Tirikatene.

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We are halfway through the four month Maori Electoral Option process and there have only been 4,984 net enrolments on the Maori Role compared to the 7,457 net enrolments at the halfway point in 2006.

The last time the Maori Electoral Option was offered, the net increase was 14,914 on the Maori Roll which compares to the 13,588 voters in Ikaroa-Rawhiti who chose not to vote in the last election.

The low up take of Maori voters to the M?ori Roll has been blamed by political commentators on the split in the Maori Party leadership but the real question we need to ask now not later is: how do we engage our people and what is the cost to us of not exercising our collective political muscle?

There is a large constitutional debate occurring around the country at the moment so if Maori continue to disengage in our political process this could have far reaching consequences for our people.

We need to move Maori to the polls, we need to move Maori to power and we need to move Maori to change but that change can only occur once we address the root causes of the streamlined apathy within Maoridom.

The Labour Maori Caucus has conducted an analysis into the M?ori seats issue and we are confident that we will not lose a seat but that same analysis shows no M?ori seats will be gained. It would be disappointing if Maori were to lose the opportunity to increase their influence in the Beehive.

It is crucial to ensure Maori fully exercise their political power to participate and be active in decision-making in Parliament. This is essential to overcome historical inequalities and discrimination.

Indicators of extreme poverty in Aotearoa are twice as high among Maori, median income for Maori has fallen to an all-time low since 2008 and real capita income for Maori has fallen by 14 percent, while real per capita income for non-Maori has increased by 3 percent, says Mr Tirikatene.

Contact Rino Tirikatene 021 676272

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