The Māori seats in Parliament are a unique feature of New Zealand’s democratic system. The Māori seats guarantee that there is a minimum number of members of Parliament (MP's) who can represent Māori views and perspectives in Parliament.
Origin of the Māori seats
In the 19th century, the right to vote in New Zealand was based on individual land ownership. Most Māori did not meet this requirement as land was held communally so Māori were unable to vote even though they paid taxes and were affected by political decisions.
Four Māori electorates were established by the Māori Representation Act 1867 and made permanent in 1876. Māori voters were only allowed on the Māori roll.
The Māori roll
Since 1975, Māori voters can choose to register on the Māori roll or the General roll. This is called the Māori Electoral Option.
The number of people on the Māori roll decides, in part, the number of Māori electorates. This system was introduced with the MMP voting system in 1993. At the 2011 election, there were seven Māori electorates.
Voters enrolled on the Māori electoral roll may only vote for a candidate standing in the Māori electorate in which they are enrolled. Like all other voters, they also have one party vote.
Māori participate in local government
The nature and extent of Māori representation in local government decision-making varies across the country. Most councils consult to some degree with tangata whenua.
Local government is encouraged to consult Māori on decisions under the Local Government Act 2002 and on decisions about natural resource management under the Resource Management Act 1991.The Local Electoral Act 2001 provides councils with an opportunity to create Māori wards; these wards can only be created with the support of the majority of voters in the region.
These are the questions we would like your feedback on:
How should Māori views be represented in Parliament?
How could Māori electoral participation be improved?
How should Māori views and perspectives be represented in local government?