Jan 19, 2021

TangataWhenua.com

Maori News & Indigenous Views

Maori Option messages not reaching whanau in meaningful way

3 min read
The Maori Party is building up pressure to make sure all parties focus on the Maori Electoral Option.

maori_roll_or_general_roll_N2The party met with the Chief Electoral Officer at their caucus this morning and followed up with the first question for oral answer to the Minister of Justice.

We are extremely dissatisfied at the efforts made to encourage Maori voters to get on the electoral roll, said Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki.

$5million has been spent on the Maori Electoral Option and yet the messages are not reaching our wh?nau in a meaningful way. There needs to be more done to promote the importance of enrolment and the importance of the Maori Roll.

Someone needs to take responsibility to ensure that tangata whenua are taking up their citizenship rights to participate in the political process. We know that many of our whanau members are out there doing the Electoral Commissions job and that is not on, not when the Commission has been given $5million.

The Maori Electoral Option only happens once every five years and the Maori seats are a powerful voice for creating change for whanau, hapu and iwi. If every Maori voter chose to go on the Maori roll we could have at least thirteen Maori seats and the influence of Maori upon the parliamentary process would be profound, said Te Ururoa.

It is an outright disgrace that halfway through the process there are only 5000 new enrolments. While we welcome Minister Collins recognition that no-one could be pleased with the progress made to date, we want to see far more effective efforts from the Electoral Commission in mobilising Maori electoral participation.

We encourage all who care about a representative political process to champion the Maori Electoral Option as a fundamental means of advancing M?ori aspirations. This is a constitutional issue, not a party political matter.

ENDS

BACKGROUND Question 1;11 June 2013.

TE URUROA FLAVELL (Maori PartyWaiariki) to the Minister of Justice:
Is she satisfied with the Electoral Commissions engagement with whanau, hapu, iwi and marae around the 2013 Maori Electoral Option; if so, what advice has she received that would explain why halfway through the process there are only 5,000 new enrolments?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice):
I have received four reports from the Electoral Commission on progress for the Maori electoral option. It is fair to say that the uptake from Maori for enrolment on the Maori roll has not been great. The Electoral Commission has run a 4-month campaign over radio, television, and print media, as well as setting up a Facebook page, which has reached over 200,000 people and received over 13,000 likes. I am advised by the Electoral Commission that the response for this campaign is similar to the response in 2006, when there were around 6,000 new enrolments.

Te Ururoa Flavell:
Can I ask what assurances can she give that the Electoral Commission has prioritised kanohi te kanohi, or face to face, communications with Maori constituents in informing them of the Maori electoral option?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS:
I understand from the Electoral Commission that it has, in fact, undertaken that. I also understand that it has met this morning with the Maori Party to discuss the Maori Partys stated concerns. I am sure that many people would say that there are not enough Maori on the electoral roll, and that anything we can do to assist should be done if we can.

Te Ururoa Flavell:
As only 73 percent of young people are enrolled to vote, with the proportion of rangatahi Maori even less, what responsibility does she have to ensure that 100 percent of New Zealanders are enrolled, and how does she plan to reach those people who are not enrolled?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS:
Short of actually prosecuting people for not being enrolled, which I am not prepared to consider as something that this Governmentor any Governmentshould prioritise, I would say that even in Australia, where there is compulsory voting, only 95 percent of people generally turn out. In this country, the average turnout is 81 percent. In fact, that number tends to go up when there is a possibility of a change of Government. I am happy to say that one of the good things from such a low turnout at the last election was that it was because people did not want to have a change from the fabulous current Government that we have.

Media Contact: Kym Maxwell 021 798 103

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