Māori need to "relearn" the value of their vote, says Māori mayoral candidate John Tamihere.
The Auckland mayoral candidate told Te Ao with Moana that voting is a powerful tool for Māori.
“The right to vote is the greatest democratic convention we have.”
However, he says Māori do not have the influence they could have because many do not bother to vote.
“Because we don’t turn up. You’ve got to turn up (to vote)."
Tamihere, who is one of three Māori standing for the Auckland mayoralty, says he has thrown his hat in the ring to make a statement for Māori.
“I think this is important to break some glass ceilings in 2019 and 2020 New Zealand, that a person with Māori ethnicity can stand and aspire for high office and do extraordinarily well in the contest.”
He says Māori voting can be effective even though Māori have a smaller population base than non-Māori.
“A unified minority beats a divided majority anytime, simple as that.”
He says there are some common misunderstandings that are stopping some Māori voting.
“Some come up and say 'I’m on the Māori roll so I can’t vote for you' or they come up and say 'we’re just renters JT, we don’t pay rates so we can’t vote'. That’s not right, if you’re a resident in any place and on a roll you can vote."
Tamihere says many Māori are put off voting in local body elections by the confusing forms and postal voting.
"Over half of them here won’t open an envelope even if they’re on a roll. It’s official paperwork and if it’s official paperwork it’s a bill, it’s a summons.”
However, he says Māori can mobilise voters by tapping into familiar whānau and community networks and by helping people relearn the value of their vote.
Speaking at a community gathering he said, “Our vote is very important, we must organise it and we must have church voting days, we must have whānau voting days, we get our kōhanga reo, kura, whare kura voting days. We must start to relearn to value that vote.”