2006 New Zealand Maori Electoral Option

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Friday, March 3, 2006

Today marks the beginning of the 2006 Māori Electoral Option. The Māori Option process is held by law every five years following the Census, giving voters of Māori descent the choice of being on the general roll or the Māori roll. Once Māori electors have decided which roll they are on, the Representation Committee will begin the process of redrawing the electoral boundaries.

The Māori roll does not generally affect the proportionality of the Parliament, which is determined by the party vote (see Electoral system of New Zealand). However the size of the Māori roll does determine how many Māori seats there are, and it is possible (through what is known as an overhang) for a party to win more seats than its share of all votes should allow. Also if a party wins a seat, it does not have to meet the 5% party vote threshold to be represented in Parliament. The Māori Party benefited both ways from the Māori seats in the 2005 election.

National Party leader Dr. Don Brash said the option was promoting a "racially-divided electoral system" and National accused the Government of state-sanctioned separatism.

Brash says getting rid of the Māori Seats is an important policy for his party and that the taxpayer should not have to pay the $4.5 million bill.

Māori Party co-leader, Tariana Turia said that National may need the Māori Party after the next election, and that she is "sick to death" of political opportunism.