Ancestry-based representation – is it racist?

Straight from city council
A personal view,
by Councillor Steve Morris

I received a letter in the mail this week inviting me to go on the Maori electoral roll, as I have Maori ancestors, and it got me thinking. Many of those in favour of ancestry-based representation try and shut down debate by branding anyone with an opposing view as ‘racist,' ‘prejudiced,' or ‘bigoted.' I disagree and in New Zealand we have freedom of speech, the right to disagree.

In 1867, only property owners and lessees could vote. Almost all Maori land was communally held which effectively ruled them out from voting so Parliament introduced special seats. By 1893, property ownership wasn't a prequalification for voting and almost everyone could vote by secret ballot. Except Maori, who couldn't be on the general roll and were forced to endure the patronising practice of voting for MPs by a ‘show of hands' until 1937.

Fast forward 80 years and our democracy has made great strides. A quarter of all MPs are of Maori descent and every party in Parliament, except Labour, has a leader of Maori descent. The reason for setting up special seats 150 years ago has vanished. Some want to introduce ancestry-based council wards in 2018 and the colour of people's faces at Tauranga City Council is often cited as the reason why. Isn't that racist?

If an important part of our community is cut away from being represented by 10 councillors with 10 votes and instead only represented by one ancestry-based ward with one vote, is that really better for anyone?

2 Comments

Racism in New Zealand is

Posted on 17-04-2018 21:33 | By Bruja

definitely NOT a one-way street! Finally, now, in 2018, I am so utterly sick to death of 'racist cards being played' from ALL quarters! We need to STOP, RIGHT NOW! Let us move on from here to being New Zealanders/Aotearoans, whatever our 'title' needs to be. The truth is that we are all connected if we go back far enough, we have ALL travelled to this piece of land from elsewhere. We are ALL Tangata Whenua/Belonging to this Place. Ordinary Kiwis of ALL races/ethnic backgrounds share each others lives, go fishing together, share in our kid's sports events, have barbies, have beers down at various clubs and pubs. The only racists in this land are those who seek to benefit materially in some way from that racism. WE need to not give them oxygen.

Interesting Steve, ....

Posted on 15-04-2018 13:22 | By MMG

My wife & I had 3 kids who received their 'entitlements' to part-Maori (they are 1/64th) tertiary education scholarships & financial fee reductions etc. Then we adopted 2 kids from Russia who were denied it, despite talk of 'whangai'. This country is already full of racist inequity of all flavours. I'm sure we don't need more apartheid in the shape of local-body wards. Everyone here gets hit with blatant racism in all manner of ways -- just my (whanau's) experience. My grandkids are also signed up to an iwi's racist benefit roll, & they are 1/128th & (also) have USA passports!! Serious reality checks needed?

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now