Saturday, June 14, 2014

Is it time for the Maori seat debate?

The National Party has selected its candidate to take on Ruth Dyson in Port Hills. This is a winner-take-all electorate, after Ms Dyson has announced her intention not to seek a place on Labour's list.

The National Party's website profiles the party's newest candidate:

The National Party has selected local businessman and iwi leader Nuk Korako as its Port Hills candidate for the 2014 General Election.
Mr Korako was selected by a meeting of local party members this evening.
“The Port Hills electorate changed significantly in the recent boundary changes. Nuk has the genuine links to communities across Christchurch and the electorate to be a strong voice for Port Hills," said Regional Chair Roger Bridge.
“We’re excited to have a candidate of Nuk’s calibre in Port Hills and will be running a strong campaign for the seat."
Mr Korako said he was proud to earn National’s nomination and is looking forward to the campaign.
“Christchurch communities and whanau have been through a lot since 2010, but National has stood by Canterbury at every stage of the rebuild," said Mr Korako.
“Southern Christchurch is experiencing strong growth and many unique challenges. I want to give communities across the seat a strong voice in John Key’s National Party as we rebuild our city."
Mr Korako is of Ngai Tahu descent. He is married to Chris and is a father of four sons.

The last paragraph there is an important one, hence we have highlighted it. National has selected another candidate of Maori descent to stand in a general electorate. 

For many years, National was criticised as "pale, male and stale". But we live in changing times, and under John Key's leadership, the party has not just diversified, it has transformed. Maori women hold to of Cabinet's major portfolios; Education and Social Development. National has at least nine MP's who claim Maori descent; Paula Bennett, Hekia Parata, Simon Bridges, Jami-Lee Ross, Tau Henare, Mike Sabin, Paul Foster-Bell, Claudette Hauiti and Joanne Hayes. Four of those nine hold electorate seats in general electorates.

And there are at least 25 MP's claiming Maori descent in a Parliament of 121, according to this post from DPF in December last year; that's 21% Maori representation. In other words, 18 Maori MP's have made their way to Parliament either via party lists, or by winning general electorates, plus the seven MP's who hold the Maori seats. And taking the Maori Party and Mana out of the equation, two of the remaining six parties in the Parliament are led or co-led by Maori MP's.

We have supported the Government's desire to resolve Treaty of Waitangi grievances in an expeditious manner. As grievances are resolved and as the Crown formally apologises for the manner in which Maori were treated in the 19th century, there is an opportunity for as all to move forward as one people.

We reckon that it is time to have the debate over the future of the Maori seats in Parliament. The advent of MMP at the 1996 General Election changed the political landscape, and has led to a far more diverse Parliament. The Debating Chamber is now a melting pot with Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika and Asian MP's, a profoundly deaf MP, and a number of gay MP's. MP's come from a wide variety of occupations now, and are far more representative of the community as a whole than they were even ten years ago.

Any suggestion of abolishing the Maori seats will be met with considerable opposition. But as a country, it is an issue that must be debated at some point, even if the status quo prevails as a result of the debate. It will be a test of our maturity as a nation as to how the debate is conducted, but we believe that it is an issue that must be addressed in the not-too-distant future.

8 comments:

homepaddock said...

It is time for the debate on these seats which give Maori inferior representation. The big general seats are far too big for ready access to MPs. Te Tai Tonga covering the whole of the Soth Island, Stewart Island and part of Wellington is ridiculous.

Keeping Stock said...

You make a very good point about the size of the Maori electorates Ele.

Anonymous said...

Also, those with Maori ancestry effectively have democratic rights that others don't - ie a choice of electoral roll.
I think the only reasons for keeping these seats are political.

Stewart Island Sam said...

Also, those with Maori ancestry effectively have democratic rights that others don't - ie a choice of electoral roll.
I think the only reasons for keeping these seats are political.

Phil Linklater said...

Time they were abolished

Barry said...

Abolish them because they race-based apartheid and separatism.

I disagree with your comments about "treaty claims". I think the truth is that Maoris were not treated badly and that all so-called treaty claims were and are based on lies about NZ history and they should be cancelled immediately.

Keeping Stock said...

That's your opinion Barry. I don't share it.

Anonymous said...

Someone should have done a little research into Nuk Korako's business background. I few stones unturned me thinks
Haoni