Does the Maori Roll Really Empower Maori?

I pinched this guest opinion piece from over at the BFD where it appeared yesterday.

The Author Corina Shields appears to be a mid to late twenties lady with two children. There is a photo which I have not brought across to this post that indicates she is in a stable relationship.

Lets have a look and see what she said.

It would be foolish of me to write this without acknowledging the fact that this subject is one that has the potential to upset some Maori and, hopefully, the government and their friends. But nonetheless, it is one I feel strongly about, so if it means dealing with people’s ill-perceived notions of who I am as a person so be it. All I ask is that people at least read what I have to say before forming a judgement about me. 

To get to the point, I need to provide some of my own backstory. At eighteen, I did what a lot of people do. I enrolled to vote and spent the next twenty years not knowing or caring who I was voting for. I just did the same thing as my parents. And for me, that meant going on the Maori roll and voting for Labour. 

In 2017, I was slightly overjoyed to see the back end of National but that was shortlived as Labour proved to over promise and under deliver on those promises. 

In 2018, Jacinda made, what I think was one of the most condescending speeches towards Maori when she uttered the following words when speaking about issues to do with Maori-

“Ask us how we have given dignity back to your whanau.”

Before you say to yourself, ‘…but Jacinda was only trying to ask for accountability!’ think about this: Is it right for the Prime Minister to think that they hold anyone’s dignity? Is it right for a government to take such a patronising position on 17% of the population, on whose land they formed the government?

For me, it was an insult for anyone, let alone the Prime Minister to think they hold anyone’s dignity or that people should ask a government how they gave it back to them, and so in the 2020 election, being politically homeless, I wasted my vote on an independent candidate. A move I knew wouldn’t amount to much but it at least would stop people saying, “You can’t complain because you didn’t vote.”

After watching the chaos that has taken place in New Zealand since Labour’s Covid wave of victory in the 2020 election, I decided I couldn’t let another vote go to waste, so I started educating myself on politics and how best to use my vote. It has been quite a journey and one I’m grateful to be on because it allows me to share what I’ve learned with others who find themselves in a similar situation and what I’ve discovered is this- 

Maori have been sold a lie when it comes to what the Maori roll and a Maori seat MP represent. 

In November 2022 the government passed their final reading on the Maori roll option. Had this law not come into effect the next option for change wouldn’t have occured until 2024, after this year’s election. However, the new law which came into effect on March 31st, 2023, means Maori can now change what roll they’re on until three months before a general election. That means until July 14, 2023 people can make the switch from Maori to general and vice versa for this election.

It’s clear this was a move done intentionally to capture the Maori vote once the government realised there was no way they were going to get the youth vote across the line and have the voting age lowered to 16. If you’ve taken notice lately you’ll see there is a big push to get people to cross over to the Maori roll.

The unfortunate thing about this law change is it has been packaged to make it appear like it is a good thing for Maori and that they’ve given Maori back their ‘power’ and ‘voice’ by giving them the chance to change rolls when they want. 

The reality though is they’ve left out some really important details about what being on the Maori roll means.

What they’ve neglected to tell Maori is that traditionally only left leaning parties (Labour, Te Pati Maori, Greens) and independents tend to be the ones who stand Maori seat candidates. National are standing two this year but this is a shallow effort by a party whose leader doesn’t see value in the Maori seats and hasn’t stood anyone in these seats for around twenty years.

Another important fact they’ve left out is that there is no difference in requirements for a General seat candidate and a Maori seat candidate so if people think by being on the Maori roll they will get a Maori representative or one who speaks Maori this isn’t necessarily true. After checking the candidate guidebook for myself and not finding any requirement on Maori seat candidates, I called the elections helpline number to ask about it, only to be told the same thing. There is no difference in requirements between General and Maori seat candidates. Further investigation reveals this ‘rule’ has been in place since 1967.

What also isn’t widely known is just how thinly Maori MPs are spread across their electorate. Where a General seat MP has one electorate, each Maori seat MP has an area that contains between 5 and 18 general electorates. There are 72 electorates in total. 65 general and 7 Maori. That means 7 Maori MPs are having to serve the same area as 65 General MPs. That seems unfair to both the Maori MPs and Maori voters who have been led to believe that being on the Maori roll empowers them and gives them representation. The way I see it is, it gives Maori less representation because our choices are severely limited in the first place and Maori MPs are required to serve far more areas. If they become Ministers it means their time is even more limited as they juggle those portfolios as well. 

Attempts have been made to do away with Maori seats in the past. Obviously to no avail because we still have them. Which is another reason for the big push to get people on the Maori roll and do the census because the Maori roll option and the census are how the number of Maori seats are determined in election cycles.

As a traditional Labour supporter in the past and one who has taken this Labour Government and their ministries to task on different matters over the last few years (state housing, Covid, education to name a few) it strikes me as odd that a government that claims to care about Maori, neglects important facts in order to squash more of us into a box that doesn’t fit us.

For far too long, the narrative portrayed by those on the left and in the media is that Maori are victims of the system and yet the left continue to be the ones who perpetuate the victim mentality by limiting Maori with nonsense narratives.

If those on the left truly cared about co-governance and Maori, they would stand on their merits by getting rid of the Maori seats and the limited choices available to Maori and have the courage to stand against their general electorate counterparts and prove to Maori and themselves that they have the skills and not just the right skin tone to get issues fixed that desperately need fixing. 

If there are two things I want those on the Maori roll to know it is this-

• When so many of us aren’t just Maori, why should we stay on a roll that severely limits our options? 

• You don’t need to be Maori to care about Maori or issues that affect Maori. I have met and talked to some amazing non-Maori who have given me more connection to my whenua than my own people and are far more knowledgeable about what is truly affecting Maori because of their own life experiences.

And so for me, I have decided to use the government’s law change and remove myself from the Maori roll so that I can vote for people and a party that better align with my own values. And what aligns better with me is the right to choose who to vote for based on what my values are and not just because “I’m Maori”.

This is just one comment from the BFD.

Didn’t read, then did because of your comments. Glad I did it, is a very powerfull essay.

Here is a link to the full post at BFD for those that might be interested in reading all of the supportive comments.


What a shame we do not see excellent contributions like this in the MSM – it would surely promote some thoughtful debate.







8 responses to “Does the Maori Roll Really Empower Maori?”

  1. Roy Baldman Avatar
    Roy Baldman

    Shame you didnt read her post.
    You would see that she is at least 38 years old.

    1. adolffinkensen Avatar

      To properly age them you need to look at their teeth.

    2. pdm1946 Avatar

      Good point RB. Actually I did read it in full yesterday but, did not read again this morning.

      What do you think about what she had to say?
      Surely that is the important bit.

  2. rossco Avatar

    Umm dont understand what she is getting at, someone needs to boil this down to:

    I’m 38
    I’m Maori
    I’ve been screwed by the Left for the 20 years of my voting life
    I’ve finally realised that the 7 Maori seats are an anachronism that allows the Left to screw me.
    Most Maoris dont need all this shit.
    National are too frightened to kill it off
    Therefore the same old shit will continue for the foreseeable future.
    A majority of Maoris vote party vote National anyway ( at least they arent dumb Maoris.)

    MMP is designed to benefit the left by excluding the right from absolute power and screwing people. Labour won an absolute majority, the dickheads came to power, and the first thing they did was screw everyone, including the Left.

    Have i got it right or have i missed something??

  3. pdm1946 Avatar

    Pretty much on target Rossco.

    Probably not good blogging to condense it that way though.

  4. Jim Rose Avatar

    Reblogged this on Utopia, you are standing in it! and commented:

    Prior to MMP, if there was no Maori roll, half a dozen regional National party seats would have been more marginal making a labour government more likely

  5. exiled2texas Avatar

    On balance, the Maori seats are a gerrymander that reduces the competitiveness of the general seats. Only 50% of Maori opt for the Maori roll, and by nature these tend to be more left leaning, so it effectively sticks those voters in an electoral ghetto. While in the first part of the 20th Century these seats produced exemplary leaders such as Sir Apirana Ngata (whom I love to mention was the last National Party MP to hold a Maori seat, because it pisses off the Left), the quality of politicians occupying these seats has been poor. Possibly only Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples have been notable since that time.

    One can only conclude that the Maori seats are bad for Maori, and allow them to be sidelined, especially by a Labour Party that considers them in their gift.

    Of course. I am not Maori, and while all this bothered me on principle as a young man, I really couldn’t care less now. It’s someone else’s problem. And MMP has made it less relevant.

  6. Papa Mike Avatar

    How can I find out how many so called Maori are there in New Zealand ?
    We are assumed to accept 16% of the total population, but of the recent Census, unfulfilled, as many so called Maori have not completed the current census, then we are to accept that whoever voted in the Maori section the figures are then moderated to give as many people Maori status, as whoever decides, in secret as we are not allowed to be told.
    Both Maori and Non Maori are being conned again.

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