Wairiki MP Tamati Coffey found out in Whakatane what we found out while collecting signatures for petitions for a vote, that many people haven’t a clue about what proposals for Maori wards entail.
While on a hikoi there last Wednesday, Coffey found that “some of our kuia” thought “Maori wards in the hospitals sound great” while others thought it was “about Maori wardens”.
The proposals are the response of some non-Maori local body councillors to a requirement in the Local Government Act 2002 for a representation review every six years, part of which includes considering a Maori ward.
During these reviews, most of New Zealand’s 78 local authorities quite wisely considered a Maori ward and decided against going down the separate reserved seats track. That in itself fulfils the legislative requirement.
The current attempts by five councils – Western Bay of Plenty, Whakatane, Manawatu, Palmerston North, and Kaikoura – to set up Maori wards, show up councillors who are stumbling into a racist, paternalistic option while trying to implement a misguided understanding of legislative requirements.
Maori seats MP wants to entrench Maori seats
Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene’s Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot on Thursday of last week.
This bill would require a 75 percent Parliamentary majority to remove the separate Maori seats, which is the same requirement for the removal of general seats.
Hopefully, New Zealand First would sink the bill by voting against it because they proposed during last year’s election campaign having a referendum on the future of the Maori seats.
Hobson’s Pledge says Maori seats should be dropped.
With 22 MPs with Maori ancestry in Parliament aside from the seven in Maori seats, there is obviously no need for a helping hand to get Maori candidates into the House.
By the way, these separate seats were set up as a temporary measure in 1867 to enable voting by Maori men, and became redundant in 1893, when everyone aged 21 and over won the right to vote.
The Royal Commission on the Electoral System in the 1980s also recommended that Maori electorates be scrapped if the country adopted MMP.
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