Government votes against legislation that would advance Maori electoral rights

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Te Pāti Māori calls on the government not to support legislation that would advance Maori rights and move us forward towards a more Te Tiriti-centric aotearoa, after choosing to vote against Rawiri Waititi’s bill to fix the system Aotearoa’s “racist” election.

Waititi’s bill, the Bill amending the Election Bill (right to change roles freely)was defeated 107 to 12 at first reading last night, with only Te Pāti Māori and the Green Party voting in favour.

“Passing my MP bill is the bare minimum the government could have done to maintain the right to vote and honor Te Tiriti o Waitangi in this country. Instead, they chose to vote down simply so they could be the ones to come up with their own watered-down solutions to the problems created by their system,” said Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi.

“While Labor has followed our lead in bringing forward their own Elections Bill which I am happy to support, theirs is like a Christmas tree without the decorations while our Bill is a Christmas tree with all the decorations and all the gifts for our whānau,” Waititi said.

“There will always be issues with constituency boundaries not being redrawn after each election to reflect currently registered voters.

“If someone identifies themselves as Maori when registering but does not choose a voters list, they should be registered on the Maori voters list, because we know from research that many of our fellow citizens are automatically registered on the non-voter list. Maori if they sign a paper-based form.

“My Bill would also change the name from ‘General Electoral District’ to ‘Non-Maori Electoral District’ as voting in all electorates takes place in a ‘General Election’. This doesn’t just confuse Maori voters; he calls us “others”.

“We inherited an electoral system that was deliberately designed to prevent Maori from participating in our democracy and remains one of the most racist areas of law in this country,” Waititi said.

“Maori are currently excluded from full participation in our democracy for up to 8 years in a row. Thousands of Maori apply to change the list every year, leading to thousands of Maori opting out of voting altogether.

“The government has a responsibility to ensure that Aotearoa holds free and fair elections that do not prevent any group from participating. My bill would do just that. It should have been a no-brainer for Labor, especially since we have already done the mahi for them,” Waititi said.

Debbie Ngarewa-Packer’s bill, the Draft law amending the prohibition of seabed mining legislation, is due to pass its first reading in Parliament in December. Passing this bill is critical to protecting our moana interests, as well as tangata whenua interests, from corporate looting. Te Pāti Māori is calling on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to put her words into action and show leadership on what is one of the most important issues of this generation. To not do so is to actively choose to vote against the once indigenous peoples, our environment and the future of our mokopuna.

© Scoop Media

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