Peters revives talk of Maori seats referendum

Talk of a referendum on Maori seats was revived, briefly, last week when Acting Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters called for a two-pronged referendum on whether they should be entrenched or should go altogether.

New Zealand First campaigned on holding a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seats. But Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ruled out such a referendum and Mr Peters dropped such talk as he went into coalition with Labour.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene's member's bill to entrench the seven Maori seats was pulled from the members' ballot in May and will soon have its first reading in Parliament.

New Zealand First would not support the bill as it stands, Mr Peters said, but would reconsider if Labour puts in a supplementary order paper in the committee stages to include a referendum.

There is nothing to prevent NZ First from introducing their own SOP if they are serious. But Mr Peters took this off the table in signing up to the coalition and any reversal would put intolerable strain on the coalition.


Maori voting with their feet

An update on the current Maori Electoral Option covering the period April 3 (the start date) through to July 2 shows a net impact on the Maori roll of minus 432 and on the general roll of plus 3948.

A total of 9274 switched from the Maori roll to the general roll, 6728 switched from general to Maori. There were 1402 new enrolments by Maori on the general roll, and 2114 new enrolments by Maori on the Maori roll.

To put this in context, net increases to the Maori roll have been declining since 2001, when the option saw a net increase in the Maori roll of 24,144. The net increase in 2006 on that roll was 14,914, and in 2013 it was 7052.

The message: Bright-eyed young ones fresh from the school system sign up but those who have been through a few elections sign off.

There won't be any additional Maori seats this time round and there is a small possibility that the overall increase in the general roll could lead to a reduction in the Maori seats from seven to six.


Activists do lie and reporters fail to check

After Maori wards proposals were voted out in five districts in May, the June 16 issue of Salvation Army magazine Warcry published a curious piece titled “Why we supported Maori wards”.

The second paragraph of the article says: "The protest group, Hobson's Pledge, led by Don Brash, poured $100,000 into each of the five areas to ensure that the petition occurred, and a referendum was forced. "

How did they reach that figure? Since we were there we can tell you.

That $100,000 figure started at a debate at Massey University in Palmerston North when one on the other side made up that figure.

A Hobson’s Pledge member debating against a Maori ward ran through a series of figures for the total campaign in five districts that was under $30,000.

A member of the opposing team plucked the figure of $100,000 out of the air, he was challenged, and in response he said he added it up.

It appears that the Salvation Army writer has taken that $100,000 figure and applied it to each of the five districts to imply that we spent $500,000 in five areas to buy the vote.

The lesson – some activists do lie and some reporters fail to check.

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