Māori constituencies for regional council

To enhance the role of Māori in local government, legislation provides for the option to establish Māori constituencies. In October 2020, Northland Regional Council voted to establish Māori constituencies 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 constituency?
It is where electors on the Māori roll vote for candidates standing for Māori constituencies. Electors on the general roll vote for candidates standing for general constituencies.

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

How many Māori constituency councillors can there be?
There’s a legislative formula to work this out, based on the total number of councillors and the latest available electoral population statistics.

Who can stand for election in a Māori constituency?
Anyone on either electoral roll can stand in a Māori constituency. Candidates standing for election in a Māori constituency do not need to be of Māori descent, but they must be nominated by two electors from the Māori electoral roll in Northland.

Does the total number of councillors increase with Māori constituencies?
Council is reviewing its representation arrangements in 2021 and that will determine the total number of councillors. Public consultation happens as part of this process. Find out more about the representation review: www.nrc.govt.nz/representationmatters 

Would it still be one vote per person with Māori constituencies?
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.

Does having Māori constituencies 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 constituency councillors just represent Māori?
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