The Māori electoral option should be amended, allowing Māori to change electorates at any time, according to a submission made by Te Puna Ora o Mataatua (TPO) to the Ministry of Justice this week.
The Government is currently considering whether the timing and frequency of the Māori Electoral Option should be changed.
The Māori Electoral Option is a four-month period during which Māori voters can elect to exercise their option to move between General or Māori electoral rolls.
Currently, this takes place every five to six years and apart from when they first enrol to vote, this four-month period is the only time when Māori voters can change electoral rolls.
The last Māori Electoral Option was in 2018and the next one is due to happen in 2024. Ahead of this, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua is calling for the legislation to change.
Chief Executive Dr Chris Tooley says its submission to Ministry of Justice is about Mana Motuhake.
“Māori deserve the ability to exercise their rights and make their own choices in relation to which roll they are on.
“The current timeframe of five to six years means Māori have to wait two election cycles before they are able to change to the Māori roll or the general roll.
“This is exacerbated by the lack of information and formal education regarding the Māori electoral roll.”
He says this is creating a lot of confusion, especially for new voters, and ultimately affecting Māori representation.
“Many Māori may opt for the general roll when they first enrol to vote, which leads to significant frustration when they are unable to change back to the Māori roll for five to six years.
“There is a significant need to provide abetter option for Māori.”
Te Puna Ora o Mataatua’s submission recommends a change to the Māori electoral option that allows Māori to change rolls at anytime prior to the dropping of the writ and considers this in line with tino rangatira and mana motuhake.
“We support Government’s review of the Māori electoral option as we consider the current option is not fit for purpose and needs to change.
“We’re watching this closely, as it’s an important constitutional decision.”
He’s encouraging Mataatua whānau to keep an eye on the progress too.
Read Te Puna Ora o Mataatua’s full submission here: https://www.tpoom.co.nz/research
More information on the Māori Electoral Option is available here: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/maori-electoral-option/