Māori seats for regional council

To enhance the role of Māori in local government, legislation provides for the option to establish Māori seats. In October 2020, Northland Regional Council voted to establish Māori seats for the 2022 regional council elections. This web page aims to answer some of the common questions people may have about the process.

What is a Māori seat?
It is where electors on the Māori roll vote for a candidate from the Māori constituency(s). Electors on the general roll vote for candidates from the general constituency(s).

Why did council vote to establish Māori seats?
With more than a third of Northlanders being Māori and no Māori councillors for several terms, council want to guarantee Māori a place at the decision-making table. Council considers that Māori seats will improve democracy and better reflect the needs and aspirations of our entire community.

After a number of workshops and having heard from many people representing different viewpoints on the debate, council voted in favour of establishing Māori seats. Read more in our 20 October council meeting agenda: northland.infocouncil.biz

Will there be a public poll on the creation of Māori seats?
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is reported to have described the poll requirement as an anomaly that had held back widespread Māori representation.

Government legislation to remove the requirement for a binding poll is expected to be passed into law by Friday 26 February 2021. It means that even if a petition for a poll has been lodged, a public poll on whether to have Māori seats cannot occur.

Would the total number of councillors increase with Māori seats?
Not necessarily. Council will do a review of its representation arrangements by 31 August 2021 and that will determine the total number of councillors.

Public consultation on things like the number of Māori seats would happen as part of this process.

Would it still be one vote per person with Māori seats?
Yes. Regardless of which electoral roll a person is on they are only able to cast one vote at local body election time. Those on the Māori roll are able to vote for those standing in the Māori constituency and those on the general roll can vote for those standing in the general constituencies.

Would having Māori seats cost more?
Not in terms of what they get paid – it doesn’t change the total pool of money allocated for paying council’s elected representatives. If the number of councillors goes up, each councillor will be paid less.

Would Māori seats just represent Māori at the council table?
No. Māori elected to designated Māori seats will sign the same oath as other councillors; at the decision table they will represent and make decisions for the good of all Northlanders, not just tangata whenua.

How do I get on the electoral role?
Electoral Roll enrolments and updates are managed by the Electoral Commission: www.vote.nz/enrol