National to contest the Maori seats

One News reports:

The National Party will now contest the Māori electorate seats, 1 NEWS can reveal. …

National last stood in the Māori electorate seats in 2002. The following year, the party wanted the seats gone, with former leader Sir Bill English saying in 2003, “The purpose of the Māori seats has come to an end.”

Leader in 2004 Don Brash called the seats an “anachronism” in Parliament.

Under Judith Collins, National’s policy is set to change. 1 NEWS understands Collins was intending to inform the caucus and announce the change publicly next week.

This is a sensible thing to do. Of course National will not win any of the seats, but having candidates there may increase the party vote for National in those seats. And I doubt National gains a single party vote elsewhere by not standing candidates in them.

My preferred policies on the Maori seats is that there should be a referendum on them, with any change needing a majority both of all voters, and of voters of Maori descent.

The choice I would give in any referendum is between the status quo of (seven) Maori seats or the Royal Commission’s recommendation of abolishing the 5% threshold for Maori parties.

This would mean a Maori party with 0.4% of the vote or just 12,000 votes would gain a seat in Parliament. You would probably end up with four or five different Maori parties in Parliament – which would be good as Maori do not have just one view. You might have an Iwi based party, a urban Maori party, a left wing Maori Party, a conservative Maori Party, an environmental Maori Party etc etc.

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