Upcoming electoral roll change an opportunity for eighth Māori seat

By Talisa Kupenga

It's been 150-years since the Maori seats were established, now Māori political advocacy group Te Ata Tino Toa is campaigning to increase registrations on the Māori Roll with the aim of creating an eighth Māori seat.

Te Ata Tino Toa spokesperson Te Ao Pritchard wants more Māori Roll registrations to give Māori a stronger voice in parliament.

"The Māori option is coming up in 2018 and we want to make sure that the potential of Māori involvement and for MPs to be speaking on behalf of the people is captured."

Pritchard says the campaign will involve promotion, education and raising awareness of the potential of the Māori seats and the opportunities they can create for Māori.

"The general seats speak on behalf of the general population when there are some very specific Māori issues that need to be tended to. So in the Māori seats one of the benefits is that you have a concentrated focus on what it is that you're directing your progress towards or what you're influencing."

A quarter of a million people are already on the Maori Roll. Pritchard says many Māori are unaware they can switch from one roll to the other after the CENSUS.

"We don't know how many people we require to add in another seat, that's all dependent on the CENSUS. So we want to encourage people to [participate] in the CENSUS because that has a direct influence on whether there is another Māori electorate."

Pritchard says soon-to-be voters will be targeted but irrespective of which roll they choose it’s an opportunity to help them make an informed decision.