Friday, June 24, 2011

Te Tai Tokerau

Normally I wouldn’t write about political machinations in New Zealand.  They tend to be small scale petty disputes.  However, tomorrow’s by-election is a little different.  In this case there are some constitutional principles involved arising from the Treaty of Waitangi that affect how we do things here.  And this by-election is soaking up Parliamentary focus and further delaying more important legislation.  Like the Patents Bill.

Most voters in New Zealand register for an electorate known as a general electorate.  Those New Zealanders who are of Maori descent may choose to place their names on a separate electoral roll.  This map shows both the Maori electoral boundaries and the electoral boundaries used for general electorates.

In November we will each vote for one of several candidates standing in our electorate.  Some of us will have our names on a general electorate.  Some of us will have our names on a Maori electorate.

The Maori Party was formed in 2004 with the resignation of Tariana Turia from center-left party Labour.  In the last election in 2008 the Maori Party won 5 of the 7 Maori electorates.  This year the member for the Maori electorate Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira, resigned from Parliament thereby forcing a by-election in his electorate.  I guess we can say he resigned.  At the time the Maori party was going through a disciplinary process to evict him.

Tomorrow’s by-election is expected to cost $500,000.  It’s a three horse race.  Hone Harawira under his new Mana Party is running against a candidate from the Maori Party and a candidate from the Labour Party.  If Harawira wins tomorrow he will probably qualify as the leader of the Mana Party, a Parliamentary party.  He will receive more funding and privileges in the run-up to the general election in November than he would as a mere independent MP.

Harawira is unpopular in most circles, to put it mildly.  It will be an interesting race to watch.  But is it the best use of Parliamentary focus, time, and taxpayer funding?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...