Māori roll numbers drop worry for Māori electorate MPs
While there's a campaign encouraging Māori voters on the General roll to switch back to the Māori roll, latest figures from the Electoral Commission show that more than 2,000 people have dropped off the Māori roll.
Māori electorate MPs say they are worried about it and admit there's a sense of complacency amongst Māori voters.
Māori roll campaigner Kaapua Smith fears the seats may be lost.
“There is a decrease of people switching to the Māori roll compared to the general roll. I mean the real risk there for us is that we may lose a Māori seat.”
Smith says perhaps there are many reasons why Māori voters aren't crossing over to the Māori roll.
“We need to do some research to understand why Māori are not switching. It's an inequity anyway that we only get to do this once every five years, and the other issue is the Electoral Commission itself will not promote one option over the other - it's really up to Māori to promote going on to the Māori roll.”
Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta says people need to be told about the Māori roll.
“He tino āwangawanga kei te heke iho te tatauranga o rātou e eke mai i runga i te rārangi pōti. Kia whakamōhio matua kei waenganui a whānau, mā mātou hoki ngā kaitōrangapū hei whakapapāho atu ā mātou nei whakaaro, koinā te pai inā ka taea koutou te rēhita ā koutou nei ingoa.”
Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis says more Māori seats mean a stronger Māori voice in parliament.
“Mehemea ka kake ake te nama o ngā Māori ki runga i te rārangi Māori, ka whai tūru anō tātou te Māori he mea pai tēnā mō tātou katoa.”
Smith says if one carefully considers the issue, the logical outcome will be the Māori roll.
“The playing field is not level. If we don't use these seats - we will lose them. And so the imperative on whānau to actually get across on to the Māori roll is very strong. And the avenues that we can do to support this kaupapa is just to talk to our whānau and check what roll they're on and support them to make the switch.”
The Māori electoral option ends in August.