Just when you thought John Tamihere had stepped out of the political limelight, he’s back.
Almost a month after the election, the Māori Party is requesting a recount for both the Tāmaki Makaurau and Taihauauru electorates
John Tamihere who stood in the Auckland seat but stepped down as co-leader after the election in favour of his son-in-law Rawiri Waititi, who had won a seat, says the party has no issue with the final results of the election. The issue was more the way whānau Māori were treated at the voting booths.
Māori Party president Che Wilson says the party has issues with the way whānau were treated at polling booths, and we need to demonstrate that Māori are prejudiced against in trying to vote, unlike other New Zealanders” Wilson said.
“Whānau said some were refused their right to vote on the Māori roll. When they pushed back, they then had to wait in queues to cast special votes. Some of them just left. Others were given Pakeha rolls to vote on.”
Polling 1% on election night and, with Rawiri Waititi winning Waiariki, the late surge of special votes resulted in Māori Party co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer also becoming an MP.
Wilson says the odds are continually stacked against Māori. The 5% threshold is unreachable for any indigenous party. It must be at least halved in Māori electorate seats.
“Now that we have representation back in the house, the Māori Party agenda has not changed from the policies we released during the election campaign,” Wilson said. “Māori are put on the Pakeha roll and can only opt on to the Māori roll every five years – meaning it can’t happen for two elections. That’s discrimination.
“We will be looking for consensus and support from all parties across Parliament.”
The recount applications were filed today with the Electoral Commission. A District Court judge will oversee the process and start a recount within three days of receiving the application.
“This recount highlights the injustice the present system has for Māori,” Wilson said.
Statement from Electoral Commission
The Electoral Commission has provided a statement on the issue. It says, "The Electoral Commission has been informed that Māori Party candidates have filed applications with the District Court for recounts in the Tāmaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauāuru electorates.
"Recounts are led by a District Court Judge and supported by Commission staff and usually take 3 to 5 days to complete.
"The Commission welcomes the opportunity to support a judicial recount in both electorates. There is a legal process to go through and the Commission cannot comment further."