Mahuta concerned at Māori roll exodus

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Māori MP Nanaia Mahuta is concerned about how many Māori have changed from the Māori roll to the general roll. 

With the Māori Electoral Option, held every five years, now at the halfway point there has been a net decrease of nearly 1,500 voters on the Māori roll.

Māori roll or general roll? That's the question.

The Minister for Māori Affairs Nanaia Mahuta says, “As far as we know 2,000 people have moved to the general roll in one month”.

The number of people on the Māori roll is linked to the number of Māori seats, or electorates.

Currently there are seven Māori seats and that could increase, decrease, or stay the same, depending on how many people are on the Māori roll at the end of the option.

After the Māori Electoral Option closes, Statistics NZ will use its results and the Census to calculate how many Māori and general seats there will be for the next two general elections. 

“We've heard some of the stats about that and we're concerned about the decrease,” says Mahuta.

Voters on the Māori roll will vote for a candidate in a Māori electorate, and voters on the general roll will vote for a candidate in a general electorate.  Whichever roll they are on, they will choose from the same list of political parties when casting their party vote.

Mona-Pauline Mangakahia says, “If you stay on the Māori roll, you vote for the Māori Member of Parliament from your Māori electorate, and there are seven of those electorates”.

Mahuta says they need to gain support among youth who can drive voting numbers.

 “If they don't want to vote to support Māori affairs then [Māori] might be weakened and that's not what the Labour Party wants,” says Mahuta.

"We've reached the halfway point in the Māori Electoral Option and it's a good reminder to Māori voters to stop and check if they have thought about which roll they want to be on," says Mandy Bohté, National Manager of Enrolment and Community Engagement for the Electoral Commission.

"If you're happy with the roll you're on, you don't need to do anything, but if you want to change rolls, now is your time to choose," says Ms Bohté.

Māori voters can enrol or change roll types by filling in an enrolment form which can be downloaded from Enrolment forms are also available from PostShops or can be requested by phoning 0800 36 76 56.

The Māori Electoral Option is held every 5 years and this year closes on the 2nd of August. The next Option is due to be held in 2024.