Campaign to raise M¯aori awareness of election options
Law allows change up to three months before election
Acampaign is being launched in Whanganui to raise awareness of electoral roll options for voters of Māori descent.
From March 31 until midnight on July 13, voters of Māori descent will be able to choose between the Māori roll or general electoral roll for the 2023 general election on October 14.
Previously, Māori have had to wait four years between switching rolls, but a new law allows for constituents to change at any time up to three months before a general election.
In April, the Electoral Commission will launch a campaign to inform Māori about the Māori Electoral Option (MEO), the choice it presents and the steps to take to change rolls if desired.
The MEO allows Māori electors to choose which roll they want to be on and this choice will determine the type of voting paper they receive.
Tuākana Education director Daniel (DC) Harding, of Whanganui, is teaming up with the Electoral Commission to bring awareness to the region, covering Whanganui, Whanganui River, South Taranaki, Central Plateau and Rangitīkei.
“It is vital that Māori electors are informed about the Māori Electoral Option and how it works. This campaign is an excellent opportunity to engage with our communities and ensure that they have a say in the electoral process,” Harding said.
The Electoral (Māori Electoral Option) Legislation Act 2022 introduces changes that provide Māori electors with more opportunities to choose between the Māori roll and General roll. The legislation takes effect on March 31.
A member’s bill from Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi, which would have allowed Mā ori to change rolls at any time, was voted down last November with only the Greens supporting.
Te Tai Hauāuru election candidate for 2023 and Te Pāti Māori coleader Debbie Ngarewa-packer said it was a shame the government did not work with Te Pāti Māori on its own bill, but it would still support the government’s bill.
She was disappointed the government had compromised.
“When you get to do these things, you want to do them well and do them properly. There’s one reason you’re doing them: because tangata whenua are disadvantaged by the current system. A half pie ka pai will never work for us,” she said.
Harding and Tuākana Education will facilitate hui wānanga (meetings and panels) over the next couple of months to engage with communities in the region.
“We’re looking for places and spaces to come and have a chat to constituents about the new option and how this will impact on iwi Māori. We have a tight timeframe, so if you would like us to come and chat to your people, please get in touch,” Harding said.
The campaign finishes on July 14 which marks the beginning of the statutory exclusion period leading up to the election.