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Footrot Flats MMP ads re-released 25 years on

TWENTY-five years ago today, Kiwis cast their first MMP votes and late Gisborne cartoonist Murray Ball played a significant role in the educational process explaining the new voting system.

He supported the Electoral Commission with Footrot Flats advertisements promoting awareness of how MMP (mixed-member proportional representation) worked.

Footrot Flats characters like Wal, Cooch and Aunt Dolly featured in a campaign explaining to New Zealand that “everyone gets two votes — one for a party, and one for a person — and the party votes decide the share of all the seats in Parliament'.

The Electoral Commission has found those advertisements and with the permission of the Ball family has re-released them.

“Twenty-five years on, these ads are still fresh and funny and give a good explanation of our voting system,” chief electoral officer Alicia Wright said.

“Voters have come to understand MMP well and know how to use their two ticks.

“After each election we survey voters and non-voters. In 2020, 96 percent of respondents said they had a good or excellent understanding of how to vote — up from 93 percent in 2017 and 95 percent in 2014.”

Local voters of 1996 cast their vote in the new electorate given the much-criticised name of Mahia, which brought the Gisborne electorate to an end after 88 years.

The electorate was renamed East Coast for the general election of 1999 as the electorate around the Gisborne had been named before 1908.

On election day, 1996, Labour MP Janet Mackey, the region's MP since 1993, won Mahia by 978 votes (10,766 votes to 9788) over National's Wayne Kimber.

The late Mr Kimber had held Gisborne between 1990 and 1993.

National won 34.75 percent of the party vote in Mahia compared to Labour's 25.91.

There was a strong third party vote in 1996, with New Zealand First, the Alliance and ACT winning nearly 32 percent of the party vote in Mahia.

Across the country, National won 33.84 percent of the party vote and Labour 28.19.

National won its third consecutive general election in 1996 under Jim Bolger but required a coalition with New Zealand First (13.35 percent of the party vote) under the MMP system.

It was the country's first coalition government in over half a century.

LET'S VOTE: Footrot Flats' Wal played a key part in the educational process as New Zealanders cast their first vote under MMP on his day in 1996. The Electoral Commission have made four Footrot Flats MMP cartoons available on YouTube with permission from the family of late Gisborne cartoonist Murray Ball. Picture supplied