Surprise NZ First support of Maori seat entrenchment bill

NZ First want a decision on Maori seats to go to a binding public referendum, and believe that wil be helped by them supporting the Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill that went before Parliament for it’s first vote yesterday.

NZH: Bill to entrench the Māori seats passes first hurdle with support from opponent

A bill entrenching the Māori seats into New Zealand electoral law – requiring a 75 per cent majority of Parliament to get rid of them – has passed its first reading in Parliament because it was supported by New Zealand First, which opposes the Māori seats.

The Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill in the name of Labour’s Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene would have failed at the first hurdle if New Zealand First, Labour’s coalition partner, had not supported it.

New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball said the party believed the issue of the Māori seats should be put to a binding public referendum and the bill was an opportunity to do that.

He said later that the referendum would be on entrenching the seats or abolishing the seats. If the party could not get that amendment passed it would not support the bill.

So NZ First’s ongoing support is dependent on an amendment that that is unlikely to be agreed on by Labour and the Greens – unless there’s another back room deal done on this.

I’m not sure whether some of NZ First’s supporters will understand the logic. Winston Peters has played the ‘abolish Maori seats’ card in election campaigns, although his actual stance has been more complicated.

July 2017:  Winston Peters delivers bottom-line binding referendum on abolishing Maori seats

Winston Peters promised “explosive policy” at his party’s convention on Sunday but it was a tried and true pledge of referenda on abolishing the Maori seats and reducing the number of MPs that he delivered.

A binding referendum on the two matters would be held on the same day in the middle of the next election term.

Peters said both issues were “explosive” but in particular the Maori seats because “Maori progress economically and socially has been massively sidetracked, detoured and road blocked by the Waitangi industry”.

“How could that possibly happen when we’ve got all these new members of Parliament coming from the Maori world?”

Peters said he wouldn’t use “silly phrases” like “bottom lines” but he made it clear the referendum wasn’t negotiable.

“My strategy is to tell everybody out there that you won’t be talking to NZ First unless you want a referendum on both those issues at the mid-term mark of this election.”

It wasn’t negotiated in the Coalition agreement with Labour, but Winston had already wiggled.  28 September 2017 (just after the election) – Winston Peters leaves wiggle room on Māori seats

Asked by Sky News whether Labour’s non-negotiable stance on a referendum could affect his promise, Peters said he initially wanted the people to decide.

“It was written up as Peters’ opposed – he’s going to abolish the Māori seats – that’s not true. I said let’s have a referendum and let the people decide, and apparently some people don’t like democracy,” he said.

“The Māori Party itself are a race-based, origin of race party who got smashed in this election and it’s gone.

“So some of the elements on which the promise was made have just changed, that’s all I can say.”

So from ‘non-negotiable’ to ‘have just changed’.

July 2018 – Winston Peters wants ‘two-part referendum’ on Māori seats

New Zealand First campaigned on holding a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seats.

At the time as Labour leader Jacinda Ardern ruled out a referendum, saying that would break faith with Māori voters.

Mr Peters said he still believed the matter should be put to the public.

“If you want to make changes to the electoral system, you should go to the country, not just do it unilaterally,” he said.

“The entrenchment to 75 percent looks good, until you can remove the entrenchment provision with an appeal and you’re back to 50 again,” he said.

New Zealand First would not support the bill as it stands, Mr Peters said, but would reconsider if an amendment was made in the committee stages to include the referendum.

“If they put an SOP [Supplementary Order Paper] in for referendum, then it will be all on.

“That’s when we put all our cards on the table as to whether there should be Māori seats and, if so, should they be entrenched.

“There should be a two-part referendum,” he said.

That signalled the NZ First position yesterday, voting for the bill at it’s first reading to try to flip it from an entrenchment of Maori seats to a binding referendum on scrapping or retaining them.

That’s such a major change in the intent of a bill it must have little chance of succeeding – if Labour hold their ground of course.



Leave a comment


  1. Gezza

     /  6th September 2018

    Winston. Dodgy as a $20 Rolex. As always.

    • Gezza

       /  6th September 2018

      He’ll have to go ! 😡

      Who else have they got? o_O

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  6th September 2018

        They’ll have to carry him out first, G. Cunning as a snake and can convince the gullible black is white any day of the week.

  2. Zedd

     /  6th September 2018

    They were smart with this; not demanding entrenchment, just saying lets put it on the same level as other seats.. 75% concensus to remove general seats. & perhaps a referendum, if it were to be reached.

  3. Seabird

     /  6th September 2018

    Another reason for those who voted NZ1st last time to run a mile from them next time.

    • Gezza

       /  6th September 2018

      Most of their voters are intellectually sub-optimal imo, so they’ll probably do it again.

  4. PartisanZ

     /  6th September 2018

    Given that politics isn’t about ethics, or fulfilling promises, or even having consistent policies, Winston is THE BEST!!!

    If politics was like a game [of thrones] where you scored well on deviousness, disingenuity, distrust, discrepancy and disdain, which is clearly what we kind of admire, expect and thus demand of our politicians, Winnie is the PAST MASTER …


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