The seven Maori seats in Parliament should be scrapped. The need for them has long passed.
Originally they were only meant to be there for five years to give Maori the right to vote in the general election 150 years ago this year. That was extended by another five years but in 1876 it was extended indefinitely.
Now we have a bill pulled out of the ballot box aimed at entrenching the seven Maori seats, sponsored by Labour’s Rino Tirikatene.
It’s hardly surprising given at the last election all the seats went back to their natural home, Labour. To entrench the seats means 75 percent of Parliament would have to vote to get rid of them. Currently they could be scrapped with a simple majority.
To entrench them would in itself need a 75% majority in Parliament, so this is not going to happen as National and ACT are against. But the 75% vote is only needed at committee of the whole stage so it might get through first and second reading if NZ First vote for it.
Without the seats Labour wouldn’t be the Government today but their retention has always been up for debate.
Actually they would be, as without them they would have seven more List MPs.
The Royal Commission, which proposed our MMP electorate system, said if it was adopted the Maori seats should go. It rightly argued that under MMP all parties would have to pay attention to Maori voters and their concerns and they felt their continued existence would marginalise those concerns.
And the Royal Commission was proved right.
And today there are the most Maori MPs ever in Parliament, 29 with our indigenous culture’s heritage, or 24 percent of Parliament and most coming from the general electorate roll.
All of the political leaders with the exception of Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw lay claim to Maori heritage. So surely Maori are, or should be, better catered for then ever before.
The seats have become redundant, other than a political crutch for Labour, they serve no purpose and rather than entrenching them, Parliament should be doing away with them.
Even without the seven Maori seats, Maori would be over-represented in Parliament.