Death knell for democracy with racist Rotorua representation Bill

The co-governance movement is making its most direct attack yet on the fundamental democratic principle of one person, one vote.

Yesterday in the House, Labour List MP Tamati Coffey's Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill passed its first reading, with Labour, the Greens, and the Maori Party in support, while National and Act were opposed.

This Bill not only divides Maori and non-Maori voters, but it gives Maori voters more seats on the Council than their proportion of the population.

The 22,000 Maori Roll voters will get three seats, while the 56,000 General Roll voters also get three seats, despite being more than twice the number of people.

This kind of arrangement is prohibited under existing electoral law, which requires adherence to the one person, one vote principle. So the Rotorua District Council and Tamati Coffey have brought this Bill to Parliament to override that legal protection for democracy.

Tamati Coffey has sent his Bill to the Maori Affairs Committee, which he chairs with a Labour majority, and has outrageously limited the window for submissions from the public to just two weeks. 

Hobson's Pledge, with your support, will be fighting this racist bill every step of the way.

Copied below are my comments to the media.

Thank you for your support.


Casey Costello
Hobson’s Pledge


7 APRIL 2022

New Zealand took a step closer to the destruction of democracy last night with the first reading of Tāmati Coffey’s Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill which would allow Rotorua District Council to allocate greater electoral power to those who chance to have some Maori ancestry, Hobson’s Pledge Trustee Casey Costello says. 

“The Bill allocates three ward representatives to the 22,000 Maori Roll voters in Rotorua and another three to the 56,000 voters on the General Roll. This assault on the fundamental principle of one person, one vote is an outrageous rejection of New Zealand’s proud democratic heritage.” 

“Coffey sent the Bill to the Maori Affairs Select Committee, which he chairs, and said he would seek to restrict the Committee’s time to consider the bill to less than eight weeks, instead of the usual six months. Coffey is giving the public only two weeks to send submissions to the Committee, showing further contempt for democracy and the New Zealand public.” 

“Last week, the Prime Minister attempted to reassure New Zealanders that Labour was very clear on what co-governance means and was critical of other parties trying to turn co-governance into ‘something it was not.’”  

“This Bill codifies in law the value of a Maori vote as having greater worth and power than a non-Maori vote. This should be abhorrent to every New Zealander.” 

“Hobson’s Pledge believes this is an appalling attack on democracy and will set a precedent for all councils. We will fight this legislation every step of the way to defend our democracy.” 

“Labour’s agenda to have our wonderful nation divided by race is further exposed today. Maori, as recent polls confirm, are concerned with the same issues as all New Zealanders, being cost of living, housing, and health.” 

“Instead of creating more of the division that only benefits the Maori elite, Labour should address those issues that all New Zealanders, Maori and non-Maori alike, say they care about more than who sits in which seats on councils,” said Casey Costello.