The Maori option

MSN reports:

Maori could lose a seat in parliament if more voters don’t switch from the general roll, the Maori Party says.

The number of Maori seats – there are seven at present – depends on census figures and how many voters are on the Maori roll.

The latest Maori electoral option is under way, running from March 25 to July 24, and results so far show Maori voters are switching both ways.

The difference isn’t much – up to May 24, 6727 had switched from the Maori roll to the general roll, while 6774 had switched from the general roll to the Maori roll.

Results for April showed the reverse, with slightly more switching from the Maori roll to the general roll.

This is unusual. As far as I know every other option has seen significantly more Maori go onto the Maori roll.

In 2006 the numbers on the Maori roll increased by 14,914. In 2001 up by 24,144 and in 1997 up by 17,948.

Halfway through the 2013 option numbers on the Maori roll are up by around 5,000 – but all through new enrolments. In terms of transfers 12,162 have transferred to the general roll and 12,087 have transferred to the Maori roll – so a net loss of 75.

Why?

It might be party tactical. That the Maori seats are seen as less competitive, and a vote there less likely to have an impact. But I don’t that is right. I think four of the seven Maori seats are in play.

The other might be that in the past more Maori have seen the Maori seats as the main way to increase the number of Maori in Parliament. But this is no longer the case. Maori are no longer under-represented, but over-represented. There are 23 MPs of Maori descent in Parliament, which is higher than the Maori proposition of the population.

Of the 23 MPs, only seven represent Maori electorates. The breakdown is:

  • 11 List MPs (Greens 3, Labour 2, National 4, NZ First 2 (inc Horan))
  • 7 Maori seats MPs (Maori 3, Labour 3 (assume retain IR), Mana 1)
  • 5 General seats MPs (National 4, Labour 1)

Based on the numbers to date, the likely outcome is the number of Maori seats remains at seven. I see no real possibility that it would reduce.

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