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Electoral system needs review, adjusting

Opinion Piece

Re: Maori voice for the ‘whole community’, November 18 story.

Facts are five of our 14 elected representatives around the GDC table claim Maori heritage — that is 36 percent Maori representation in a district that is roughly 50/50 Maori to Pakeha.

Is the existing electoral process and opposition to Maori wards the reason why such disparity exists?

How is it that in 160 years of settlement there has never been a Maori mayor?

Mayor Craig Little of Wairoa hit the nail on the head in saying a review of the Local Electoral Act was sorely needed, given past and present opposition to the establishment of Maori wards.

Contrast this with the most recent local election campaign, where there were many accomplished, qualified first-time Maori candidates offering themselves for service who were largely ignored by an electorate whose vested interest was elsewhere. There may have been a different outcome if Maori wards existed for this district.

The fact that Maori voters traditionally don’t participate and vote in numbers, because of historical mistrust of a system that clearly has not advanced Maori hopes and aspirations, speaks for itself.

Here is the (wero) challenge for our rangatahi (informed Maori and Pakeha youth) and those whose conscience errs on the side of justice and equality. The Local Electoral Act must be reviewed and adjusted.

How else can Maori and those who are underprivileged be heard, if you don’t speak up for them?

Kia kaha kia manawanui

(Be strong — take heart)

Wally Te Ua