Winston Peters reaffirms push to eliminate Māori seats

By Te Rina Kowhai

NZ First Leader Winston Peters is pushing to have the Māori seats eliminated and claims  the majority of Māori have reverted to the General roll.

Peters says “Just like the size of the parliament and the Māori seats it should be put to the people of this country.”

Peters spoke on Kawe Kōrero Reporters to affirm why he called for a binding referendum on the future of the Māori seats at his party’s annual conference held over the weekend.

“In recent years if you look at the last 20 years and see what has happened to Māori, then we have got to say this system is not working and the key issues of Māori advancement, affordable housing, health access to all in the Māori world and the education to take their young to wherever they want to go academically and lastly the first world jobs in wages. On those four things there has been massive failures and one of the reasons in my view are the preoccupation with other things, rather than what the mass majority of what Māori want,” says Peters.

Peters says, “My point to Māoridom is that, I don’t think that Māori people understand what’s just happened here. When you see that in the recent years, our ownership of property and housing have gone down by 38% that screams a crisis. And what’s the political reaction to that, well virtually nothing and it’s not satisfactory.”

Peters stated that since Mixed Member Proportional representation (MMP) was brought into Parliament in 1996, there has been a dramatic increase of Māori on the General roll. According to the Electoral Commission results for 2013: 55% or 228,718 Māori were on the Māori roll and 45% or 184,630 Māori were on the General roll.

Peters expressed his concerns about Parliamentary making the decisions and that it should really be put to the people. Peter says, “If the Māori seats have people who support them enough then they (Māori seats) could be retained”

However, when Peters was asked whether Māori seats should be decided by Māori, Peters responded saying “If you’re going to have a constitutional issue decided on privy race entitlement, then that’s not a constitutional arrangement, that’s the problem. But I am happy to discuss it with Māoridom.”

Peters continued saying, “This is not a condemnation of Māori members of parliament. There are some stand-out Māori members of parliament now who I don’t think should be pigeon holed and tokenised by saying that they are only good enough for Māori seats, I think that is a shocking indictment. And I think if people look at the inverse racism by which they are treated they may have a second look at this issue.”