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.

 

 

Futile Peters posturing on Māori seats

In May a member’s Bill was drawn that aims to improve protection the Māori seats in Parliament. Winston Peters says he wants the bill to include a referendum or two on whether the Māori seats should be retained at all.

Given that it is a Labour Māori MP’s bill, and there is no coalition agreement for NZ First’s policy to have a referendum on the Māori  seats, it must be futile posturing by Peters.

In July last year in his speech to the NZ First congress:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

More in Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

See also (RNZ): Peters promises referendum on Māori seats

However as we know, a campaign ‘promise’ is no more than policy posturing, wholly dependent on what is negotiated in setting up a Government after the election.

Just after last year’s election (RNZ): Peters appears to shift on Māori seat referendum

New Zealand First appears to have shifted its position on a referendum on the Māori seats, now the Māori Party has been voted out of Parliament.

Before the election campaign, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters pledged a binding referendum on whether to abolish the seven Māori electorate seats. He argued Māori electorates had failed to deliver what Māori really needed and were a form of “tokenism”.

During an interview yesterday on Australia’s Sky News, Mr Peters was asked how the referendum could affect coalition negotiations.

“The Māori Party itself – which was one of the driving things behind us saying it – the Māori Party itself, a race-based, origin-of-race party, got smashed in this election, and it’s gone.

“And so some of the things that, or elements to the environment on which a promise is made have since changed. That’s all I can say.”

That doesn’t say much. It is typically vague of Peters.

Labour, having just won all Māori seats, did not concede anything to Peters on the seats in their coalition agreement.

Then in May this year: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

A bill which will entrench Māori electorate seats in Parliament has been selected from the members’ bill ballot today.

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats. Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

Yesterday: Winston Peters wants ‘two-part referendum’ on Māori seats

Acting Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is calling for a two-pronged referendum on whether Māori seats should be entrenched, or should go altogether.

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.

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.

‘They’ – Labour – are unlikely to put a SOP in the bill for referendums. Labour’s Māori MPs are not going to want a turkey vote for Christmas.

Peters and NZ First got nowhere near any mandate for this in the last election. They got nothing on it from their published coalition agreement.

If Peters pressures Labour and they roll over on this they risk getting slammed by Māori voters. They surely aren’t that silly.

This looks like futile posturing by Peters.

I presume he was speaking as NZ First leader and not as acting Prime Minister.

Peters pulls rank and blows off two Labour Māori MP initiatives

Winston Peters sounds like he is acting Prime Minister already, throwing cold water on two initiatives being promoted by Labour MPs, a bill to protect Māori seats, and aims to make Te Reo compulsory in schools.

Predictably, Rino Tirikatene’s Māori seats entrenchment bill drawn from the members’ ballot has a promise of failure with both National and NZ First indicating they won’t support it.

Stuff: A bill to entrench the Māori seats won’t get NZ First or National support

A Labour MP’s bill to entrench the seven Māori seats will not have the numbers to pass due to opposition from both NZ First and National.

Rino Tirikatene, who holds the Te Tai Tonga seat for Labour, had his member’s bill drawn out of the ballot last week.

His bill would give the seven Māori seats the same protection as the general seats, meaning a 75 per cent majority is needed to overturn them – currently Māori seats can be abolished with a majority of just 51 per cent.

But NZ First leader Winston Peters who campaigned on a referendum to abolish the Māori seats at last year’s election said his colleague Shane Jones’ position that neither he or any of the party’s MPs would vote in favour of it was a “fair summation”.

It’s understood the National Party also plans to oppose the bill – the Opposition’s position on the Māori seats is that they’ll stay as long as Māori want them but they don’t stand candidates in the seats.

The NZ First caucus will officially decide which way its voting when it meets next week but Peters said entrenching the Māori seats was “not part and parcel of any coalition agreement and we’re here to promote the coalition agreement we’ve got”.

“Views like (Tirikatene’s) can nevertheless be promoted by backbenchers but they cannot command the coalition agreement as a consequence,” Peters said.

Peters is deputy PM at the moment, but it sounds like he is practicing for when he takes over as acting PM next month.

And Labour MPs trying to talk up Te Reo in schools have been been told to ‘watch their words’ by Peters.

Stuff: Winston Peters on compulsory te reo talk: ‘If they want to be in this Government they’ll be on the same page’

NZ First leader Winston Peters says if Nanaia Mahuta and Willie Jackson want to be in the Government they will need to watch their words.

Māori Development Minister Mahuta said compulsory te reo in schools was a matter of “not if but going to be when” on Tuesday morning.

This was a slight shift from the Government’s current policy, which only calls for “universal availability” and integration of Te Reo into the primary school curriculum by 2025. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has specifically avoided the word “compulsory.”

Associate Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson made a similar slip up in December.

Peters, the deputy prime minister and leader of NZ First – who oppose compulsory te reo – issued a sharp rebuke towards Mahuta and Jackson on Tuesday afternoon.

“Neither of them are speaking for the Government policy full stop. If they want to be in this Government they’ll be on the same page.”

If he pushes his deputy weight around like this what will he be like as acting PM?

With Peters at apparent liberty to pick and choose what he won’t support this will make the Greens look like wimps if they roll over for NZ First and Labour and support the flawed and widely opposed waka jumping bill.

 

Maori seats should be ‘entrenched’ or scrapped?

Last week a bill seeking to ‘entrench’ the Māori seats in Parliament was drawn from the members’ ballot last week. Are the Māori seats an important part of our democracy, or outdated and unnecessary under MMP?

RNZ: Bill to protect Māori seats selected

The Electoral Entrenchment of Maori Seats Ammendment Bill introduced by Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene ensures Māori seats have the same protections as general electorates seats.

Mr Tirikatane said that under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates are entrenched, meaning only a 75 percent majority can overturn them.

However, only a majority of 51 per cent is needed to abolish Māori seats.

Mr Tirikatene said the bill was about fixing the constitution.

“We should be able to have equal protection just like the general seats.”

The protection of Māori electoral seats was vital, Mr Tirikatene said.

“I think they’re unique to Aotearoa, it symbolises our Treaty of Waitangi partnership and they’ve been a long standing, important part of our parliamentary democracy.”

‘Entrenchment’ is a curious term to use here. If the bill passes it would make it a lot harder to get a big enough vote in Parliament to scrap the Māori seats so it may effectively entrench them, but it doesn’t guarantee they would always be retained.

Entrenchment (Oxford):

1 [with object] Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.

1.1 Establish (someone) in a position of great strength or security.

‘by 1947 de Gaulle’s political opponents were firmly entrenched in power’

1.2 Apply extra legal safeguards to (a right guaranteed by legislation)‘steady progress was made in entrenching the individual rights of noblemen’

2 [with object] Establish (a military force) in trenches or other fortified positions.

Origin: Mid 16th century (in the sense ‘place within a trench’): from en-, in- ‘into’ + trench.

Labour currently have about 37% of the vote in Parliament, and 100% of the Māori seats, they would easily stop them from being scrapped if a 75% vote was required. Greens also support retaining the Māori seats, and while National have previously had a policy to scrap them they have softened on this.

Winston Peters and therefore NZ First have strongly supported scrapping the seats.

So does Barry Soper: Seven Maori seats are obsolete

The seven Maori seats in Parliament should be scrapped. The need for them has long passed.

Originally they were only meant to be there for five years to give Maori the right to vote in the general election 150 years ago this year. That was extended by another five years but in 1876 it was extended indefinitely.

The Royal Commission, which proposed our MMP electorate system, said if it was adopted the Maori seats should go. It rightly argued that under MMP all parties would have to pay attention to Maori voters and their concerns and they felt their continued existence would marginalise those concerns.

Around that time the seats came the closest they’ve ever come to abolition with an Electoral Reform Bill, but it failed after strong opposition from Maori.

The seats have been something of a political football ever since. The First MMP election in 1996 saw them all going to New Zealand First, which lost the lot of them just three years later. At the last election Winston Peters promised a binding referendum to consider their abolition and on reducing the number of MPs to 100. His coalition deal with Labour’s put paid to that.

Before the 2008 election John Key promised to get rid of the seats but in his first coalition deal embraced the Maori Party which served as National’s insurance policy right up until the last election.

And today there are the most Maori MPs ever in Parliament, 29 with our indigenous culture’s heritage, or 24 percent of Parliament and most coming from the general electorate roll.

All of the political leaders with the exception of Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw lay claim to Maori heritage. So surely Maori are, or should be, better catered for then ever before.

The seats have become redundant, other than a political crutch for Labour, they serve no purpose and rather than entrenching them, Parliament should be doing away with them.

Should the seats be protected for Māori, or are they give an unfair electoral advantage to Labour?

Is this a real problem, or a self interested jack-up?

Would Tirikatene be an MP if there were no Māori seats? Possibly now via Labour’s list, but probably now not if he hadn’t already been an MP.

The bill would require the support of NZ First or National to pass, so it seems far from guaranteed.

What about public support? 1 NEWS Colmar Brunton poll August 2017:

  • Should be kept 55%
  • Should be abolished 13%
  • Should be abolished some time in the future 23%

Is the Tirikatene bill trying to fix something that isn’t broken?

 

 

Right leaning NZ First voters may be disappointed

Going by comments here, at Kiwiblog and at Whale Oil during the campaign there may be a few right leaners who voted for NZ First who may be more than a little disappointed with their choice.

Most notably Cameron Slater promoted voting for NZ First heavily, thinking they would push National right on selected issues (despite most NZ First policies being far more to the left).

Winston Peters is very experienced at pandering to potential voters on populist issues, knowing that as a smaller party he will never be able to deliver. This looks especially true by the look of the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement.

Not with National

It was common to see people saying they would vote NZ First to reduce National’s clout in a right leaning government.That NZ First decided not to do a deal with National is neither surprising nor good news for right leaning  supporters.

Maori seats referendum

One of Winston’s bottom lines/promises was to have a referendum on the Maori seats to ‘eliminate them’.  This policy was eliminated by Labour, who couldn’t countenance losing their grip on all seven Maori seats..

Immigration

Winston has campaigned for years on drastically lowering immigration numbers, often erroneously and deceitfully describing what we had as ‘mass immigration’. Jacinda Ardern has stated that Labour immigration policy remains intact, that will mean some reduction in numbers but nowhere as drastically as Winston promised.

The UN resolution on Israel

This was an issue pushed hard at Whale Oil but no one else cared about it, but has made it into the coalition agreement:

Record a Cabinet minute regarding the lack of process followed prior to the National-led government’s sponsorship of UNSC2334

This is just a criticism of the process used, of not referring the decision to sponsor the resolution to Cabinet. It does nothing to criticise or oppose the resolution.

Smacking referendum

Family First press release on 28 september: Anti-Smacking Law On Coalition Table

In a speech in March in Northland, leader Winston Peters said; “We are going to repeal the anti-smacking law which doesn’t work and has in fact seen greater violence towards children.” He then further clarified his position in an interview on Newstalk ZB saying that this matter should go to a referendum with New Zealand people who are “far more reliable and trustworthy on these matters, rather than a bunch of temporarily empowered parliamentarians. This position was backed up by senior MP Tracey Martin.

It may or may not have ever got onto the negotiating table, but neither Labour nor Greens would have supported it.

Climate change

All of NZ First, Labour and greens supported much stronger action on climate change, and it was included in both the Labour-Green deal and also the Labour-NZ First agreement:

Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and an independent Climate Commission, based on therecommendations of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

If the Climate Commission determines that agriculture is to be included in the ETS, then upon entry, the free allocation to agriculture will be 95% but with all revenues from this source recycled back into agriculture in order to encourage agricultural innovation,mitigation and additional planting of forestry.

It even allows for agriculture to be included in the ETS.

Anyone thinking that a vote for NZ First would deliver a more right leaning government may now be ruing their judgement. However the outcome was fairly predictable so they shouldn’t be surprised.

This can’t be right on Māori seats referendum

With nothing much else to do Lloyd burr has been trawling through NZ First and green policies and has come up with a sort of interesting 16 policies NZ First and the Greens disagree on

With some much spare time on his hands he should be expected to get things right, but  this one can’t be right.

2. Māori Seats

Greens – Entrench Māori Seats and oppose any referendum to remove them.

NZ First – Abolish Māori seats via a binding referendum.

I don’t know how you can have a policy to abolish something via a binding referendum. A referendum is usually intended to leave the decision to voters.

NZ First policy: Maori Affairs

MĀORI SEATS REFERENDUM

  • Māori don’t need the Māori seats. They don’t need tokenism. That is why we commit to a referendum of all electors to retain or abolish the Māori seats.

NZ First make it clear they don’t want the Maori seats, but have committed to a referendum of all electors to give them that choice.

It is arrogant for a 7% party to claim that Māori don’t need the Māori seats.

It can be argued (I do strongly) that it is questionable to allow a majority of every voter to make a decision that impacts on a relatively small minority

But NZ First don’t guarantee abolition, they commit to allowing the voters to decide.

Poll: 13% want Maori seats scrapped ASAP

A 1 News Colmar Brunton poll asked what New Zealander’s views on the Maori seats were.

  • They should be kept: 55%
  • They should be abolished some time in the future: 23%
  • They should be abolished as soon as possible: 13%

So there is not much immediate pressure to abolish the Maori seats.

1 News: Majority of New Zealanders want to retain the Maori seats

The poll tested opinion after Winston Peters announced three weeks ago that a referendum on the Maori seats was a bottom line for New Zealand First support after the election.

Maori Party co leader Te Ururoa Flavell says…

…he’s “pretty buoyed” by those results.

“I think that endorses the notion that New Zealanders see some value in those seats, number one, and rejects the notion that has been promulgated by Mr Peters”.

Winston Peters:

“The MMP promise was that in time it would demonstrate there was no need for Maori seats. And today we’ve got 24 per cent.”

I think he’s referring to 24% of MPs who identify as Maori.

Prime Minister Bill English:

“We’ve always said our preference is current coalition partners. We don’t rule out New Zealand First.”

An odd comment on this but that has a clear implication National value the Maori Party as a coalition partner and have no immediate plans to address the Maori Seat question.

Ardern’s comment in the 1 News item doesn’t relate to the Maori seat question, but she was clear on The Nation in the weekend:

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

…Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that…

…Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Andrew Geddis at The Spinoff:  The trouble with Winston Peters’ referendums

…his call to allow voters to decide the future of the Māori seats is superficially attractive. However, it ignores the fact that the five-yearly Māori electoral option already provides a de-facto referendum on this question.

During this option period, every voter of Māori descent can choose whether to be on the Maori or General electoral roll. If enough Māori voters decide to switch from the Māori to the General roll, then the Māori seats automatically will cease to exist.

Instead, 55% of all Māori voters prefer to be on the Māori roll. That point really needs emphasising; a majority of those Māori enrolled to vote consciously have chosen that the Māori seats should continue.

So most Maori prefer to be on the Maori seats, and most New Zealanders (78%) support retaining the seats or see see it as something to look at some time in the future.

Peters now is proposing the non-Māori majority will get to decide the future of these seats for Māori. That is just a really, really bad idea. Putting aside the sheer injustice of the proposal, it is a recipe for divisive social conflict.

And so, the Constitutional Review Panel charged with examining New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements concluded in 2013:

Although the Panel received a large number of submissions supporting the removal of the Māori seats this option is not recommended. It is inappropriate for longstanding rights of a minority to be taken away simply because that minority is outnumbered. The existence of the Māori seats does not impede or limit the rights of other New Zealanders to exercise their vote.

For the same reason the Panel does not support the view it heard that a general referendum should be held on the retention or abolition of the Māori seats. The question about options for the Māori seats and Māori representation requires a more nuanced decision-making tool that takes account of minority views. The Panel agrees that the decision about the future of Māori seats should remain in the hands of Māori.

That conclusion was right then, and it remains right today. Peter’s attempt to stir up some Don-Brash-Orewa-speech-era poll magic is a mad, bad and dangerous one.

An important aspect of a representative democracy (and a key reason why we have such a system) is that it is a responsibility of elected representatives to protect the rights of minorities.

That’s why we don’t have binding referendums on reducing taxes for the majority and putting them up for a minority, or having state subsidies on fuel, or banning minority political parties, or banning Catholics, or scrapping the Maori seats.

Ardern on the Māori seats

Jacinda Ardern and Kelvin Davis were questioned on The Nation about Labour’s position on the Māori seats.

Lisa Owen: OK, well, while we’re talking about the Maori seats, Winston Peters– This is another one of Winston’s bottom lines is to have a referendum on the Maori seats. Would you pay that price? Would you be prepared to pay that price to get into government?

Kelvin Davis: We’re not going to have a referendum on Maori seats. It’s off the table.

Lisa Owen: I see a head shake. A referendum is asking the people. You know, you would find out whether you have to get rid of them or not from the people. Definite no? Even at the price of government?

Kelvin Davis: No, Hone Harawira tried to sell the Tai Tokerau for $3.5 million last election to Kim Dotcom, and here’s Winston trying to give away all seven for nothing.

Lisa Owen: OK. So, Ms Ardern, definite no on a referendum, even if it’s the price of a deal with Winston Peters?

Jacinda Ardern: What we said on Tuesday is that we don’t want to spend the entire election campaign talking about other parties’ policies. So I’m happy to share with you Labour’s policy in that area.

Lisa Owen: Well, this is about how you would form a government. This is about how you would form a government. And voters want to know that, and that’s why I’m asking you. And you were shaking your head, so no referendum on the Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: The makeup of government will be determined by voters. So voters deserve to know what each political party’s position on those issues are. Labour’s position on that issue is that the Maori seats are for Maori to decide. Labour will allow only Maori to make the decision about those seats. That is our position.

Lisa Owen: All right. So, is Labour’s position, Labour’s policy, no referendum on Maori seats?

Jacinda Ardern: Only Maori should have the decision around whether or not those seats remain. We’ll stay firm on that.

Lisa Owen: That sounds like you could have a referendum where only Maori on the electoral roll could vote.

Jacinda Ardern: I believe that’s what Shane Jones might have– See, there’s not even clarity within New Zealand First on this position.

Lisa Owen: That’s why I’m wanting clarity around your policy. You’re saying Maori should decide, so Maori on the electoral roll, they could be polled whether they think that the seats should stay.

Jacinda Ardern: Well, that’s a question for Winston because he’s the one coming up with–

Lisa Owen: No, I’m asking you your policy. I’m asking your policy.

Jacinda Ardern: And I’m being very clear – only Maori will decide whether those Maori seats remain. We have no reason right now– I have not heard from–

Lisa Owen: That leaves the door open for a referendum of people on the Maori roll.

Jacinda Ardern: No, it does not. Maori have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?

Kelvin Davis: Those seats were foisted upon Maori back in the 1860s just to really control our voting power, and we’ve become quite fond of them, to be honest, so we really don’t want them to go.

Jacinda Ardern: It’s not on the agenda.

I think there would be hell to pay in Labour and amongst Maori if Labour agreed to an all-voter referendum on the Māori seats. It has to be a non-negotiable for in any coalition wrangling with NZ First.

Māori get to choose every five years whether they want Maori seats or not.

ABOUT THE MĀORI ELECTORAL OPTION

The Option only happens once every five years or so, just after the New Zealand Census of Population and Dwellings.

What you decide during the Māori Electoral Option is an important choice, as it determines who will represent you in Parliament.

If you’re on the General Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a General Electorate at the next General Election. If you’re on the Māori Electoral Roll, you will vote for an MP in a Māori Electorate at the next General Election. Every voter, regardless of which electoral roll they are on or where they live in the country, has the same list of political parties to choose from when using their Party Vote.

The results of the Māori Electoral Option together with the Census data are used to determine the number of Māori and General Electorates in Parliament and to revise the electorate boundaries.

How does the Māori Electoral Option affect the number of Māori electorates?

There are currently seven Māori electorates. If more Māori enrol on the Māori roll, it could mean more Māori electorate seats in parliament. The number of General Electorate seats could also change.

Visit Calculating Future Māori and General Electorates for more detail.

 

 

The Nation – Willie Jackson on Maori campaign

Willie Jackson talks to as Labour prepares to launch its campaign for the Maori seat.

He says that Labour are sure to get “32, 33, 35%”.

He claims Labour are polling in Maori seats and they are going “pretty well”. He expects Labour to win six seats and possibly seven, taking Te Ururoa Flavell’s Waiariki seat.

He says Labour’s Tamati Coffey are within 1% and 5 or 6 % of Flavell.

He says that Labour are talking to Green Party electorate candidates to try and work together in the Maori seats. He says “obviously Greens should work with us”.

Charter schools that Jackson supports – he says if the school is doing well ‘there should not be any problems whatsoever”. He says they will work with any government that works for their kids.

On Turei – he has sympathy but “of course it’s not ok to break the law”.

How damaging is it to Labour? He’s not worried.

“Winston is stealing some of our votes”.

 

 

Peters wavers over Maori seat referendum

In his speech to the NZ First congress on Sunday Winston Peters said:

I am therefore announcing today that the next government we belong to will offer a binding referendum mid-term to do two things:

Retain or Abolish the Maori seats.

And there will be second referendum on the same day and that will be to Maintain or Reduce the size of Parliament to 100 MPs.

RNZ pointed out: Peters, Jones differ on Māori seats

On the issue of Māori seats (Shane Jones) told The Hui programme he’d keep them but forgot to tell his boss Mr Peters who was put on the spot earlier today.

“That was a long time ago he wasn’t a candidate then.

Morning Report’s Kim Hill pressed Mr Peters again but he held the line and said “No, it wasn’t this month”.

But Mr Jones was officially a New Zealand First candidate when he made the comments just 15 days ago.

“The Māori seats will subsist for as long as people of Māori extraction remain on them or want them to continue, but it’s a kaupapa for the people to decide,” Mr Jones said.

Peters now seems to be rethinking the NZ First position on the referendum.

NZ Herald: NZ First leader Winston Peters hints at re-think on Maori seats referendum

NZ First leader Winston Peters has dismissed suggestions of a revolt in his ranks over the Maori seats, but said he will reveal soon whether his proposed referendum on the future of the seats would be for all voters or for Maori.

Peters announced plans to hold a binding referendum on the future of the seats at his party’s annual conference – a shift from the 2014 position which favoured abolishing the seats but leaving it to Maori themselves to decide when.

That was assumed to be a referendum of all voters – but Peters is now hinting that may not be the case.

Asked about recent comments by both candidate Shane Jones and NZ First MP Pita Paraone about leaving the fate of the seats to Maori voters, Peters said he believed it should be up to Maori.

“Of course it should be up to Maori to decide if the seats go, but I’m making a speech about it very shortly and I will tell you the full parameters of that.

“I’ve heard what has been said by people who have interviewed Pita and maybe others, and the question is whether it is full conscription and I’ll have that answer in a speech I’m giving shortly.”

Perhaps Peters has had a reality check with Maori candidate and Maori voter views.

He may be having a problem with trying to scratch the itch of different voter demographics. Both he and Jones are standing in Northland where there are a lot of Maori voters.

Peters was also incorrect in claiming most Maori weren’t on the Maori roll.

Peters said Maori voters were leaving the Maori seats in their droves and the majority of Maori were on the general roll rather than Maori roll.

However, Electoral Commission statistics show 55 per cent are on the Maori roll and 45 per cent on the general roll.

NZ Herald:

After the last electoral option in 2013, there were 228,718 Maori on the Maori roll and 184,630 on the general roll.

Jones and Paraone are both on the Maori roll.

Peters seems to have announced the referendum ‘bottom line’ without consulting with his Maori candidates.

Peters rejected any suggestion Jones had broken the party line by saying it should be left to Maori, saying Jones made his comments based on the party’s 2014 policy without knowing it was about to change.

“Nothing he said was in conflict with that and he made the point he was going with what he understood the manifesto position to be and he was 100 per cent right. He is not guilty of any sin at all on this score.”

Paraone said he had advocated for a referendum of Maori on the Maori roll only, but accepted the decision caucus made.

“I’d like to see that it’s left to the Maori voters to make that decision, but the announcement has been made.”

Jones said he would leave it to Paraone to comment on the issue as NZ First’s Maori Affairs spokesman. “I abide by the caucus policy.”

Before he abides by caucus policy it sounds like that will have to be determined, as opposed to what Peters said in his speech on Sunday.

 

With the higher than usual likelihood that NZ First will hold the balance of power with potentially a sizeable bloc of the vote more attention is being given to NZ First policy.

And attention is not just on Peters any more, media are also paying a lot of attention to Jones. It is an unfamiliar situation for Peters, sharing the limelight. Differences will attract attention.

Peters has got away with a lot of policy making on the hoof in the past. This campaign that will be more difficult for him.

@jo_moir

Peters saying he’s considering just Maori voting on referendum to abolish seats proves my point about him making policy on the hoof.

On Sunday he was very specific it would be one referendum, two questions, one on Māori seats and one on reducing total MPs.

You can’t have one referendum if you’re having general roll answer one question and Māori roll another. Seems awfully messy!

Jones and Paraone have left him no choice but to throw this out there as an option but it was certainly never the plan. Completely reactive.

Peters has tried to push populist buttons on a new scale, but it may get harder for him to get away with saying contradictory things to different audiences now.

This wavering over the Maori seat referendum also highlights the flexibility of Winston’s implied bottom lines.

If Peters caves on this one it would suggest that any of his campaign demands are negotiable come coalition time.