Māori electoral roll rule changes needed, newly declared mayoral candidate says

By Stefan Dimitrof

Elijah Pue (Ngāti Rangi, Ngāti Uenuku Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) wants to allow Māori voters to switch electoral rolls at any time.

Pue, a first-term Ruapehu district councillor, said it would be a huge step toward removing barriers to voting and also help justify more equitable representation in both central and local governments.

At this stage changing electoral rolls from general to Māori, can only be done every five years.

Pue laid his views on the line today when he told Te Ao Tapatahi that he intends to stand for the Ruapehu mayoralty in October.

'It’s far too difficult'

Pue said the changes that have been implemented should make interacting with the democratic process easier for Māori.

He is advocating for change by encouraging people to change from the general roll to the Māori roll.

Pue said the main barrier was that people didn’t really know how to engage. “When they are told to go down and vote or go down and enrol, they find out that they are not enrolled.”

'A pretty poor job'

“So the barrier is people don’t participate because it’s far too difficult and complex for them to understand what roll they should be on, whether they are enrolled, and where they are enrolled if they are already enrolled.”

“Instantly removing the five-year requirement for whether you can change from Māori to Pakeha or vice versa, hopefully more people will go onto the Māori roll and reduce huge barriers facing our people right now”.

Pue thinks the Electoral Commission has done as much as it could but that it was “a pretty poor job. I think it lacked some real decent Māori nous within its campaign”.

“It hasn’t worked, in fact, it had a negative effect on the number of Māori people on the Māori roll.”