Elec­toral re­form boosted Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion

Whetu Wereta helped pave way for pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion in New Zealand

StarMetro Vancouver - - VANCOUVER - DAVID P. BALL

No mat­ter how Bri­tish Columbians vote in the province’s cur­rent elec­toral ref­er­en­dum, they could learn much from the Indige­nous peo­ple of New Zealand.

That’s ac­cord­ing to the trail-blaz­ing Maori statis­ti­cian and po­lit­i­cal sci­en­tist who helped pave the way for mixed-mem­ber pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion in her coun­try, which has used MMP since 1996.

Whetu Wereta was the only Maori per­son ap­pointed to that three-mem­ber Royal Com­mis­sion in the 1980s; she has since re­tired after a ca­reer as a se­nior civil ser­vant.

“Thirty years have passed since the Royal Com­mis­sion re­ported,” she told Starmetro. “I have fol­lowed the sub­se­quent The Maori party lost all seats in the 2017 elec­tion, but Maori rep­re­sen­ta­tion reached 24 per cent un­der mixed-mem­ber pro­por­tional elec­toral sys­tem.

ref­er­en­dums, re­forms and their re­sults with a great deal of in­ter­est, hav­ing been a mem­ber of the Com­mis­sion.

“The num­ber of Maori en­ter­ing Par­lia­ment from the spe­cially des­ig­nated Maori elec­torates has been ris­ing slowly … Sec­ond, the num­ber

of Maori com­ing into Par­lia­ment, ei­ther as elec­torate or as party list MPS, has been ris­ing steadily.”

New Zealan­ders have voted with a mixed-mem­ber pro­por­tional sys­tem since 1996, after Wereta’s Royal Com­mis­sion and two sub­se­quent ref­er­enda rec­om­mended the

change from first past the post.

(MMP is one of three op­tions vot­ers in B.C. are asked to rank on the cur­rent ref­er­en­dum bal­lot, which must be re­ceived by Elec­tions BC by 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 30).

Full story at thes­tar.com/van­cou­ver

MARTY MELVILLE/GETTY IMAGES

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