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New Zealand political system

 |  Juanita Packman  | 

It was with dismay that I read Trevor Ammundsen’s muddled hypothesis about why one does not have to be Māori to stand in a Māori Ward (May 21). Trevor mightn’t have enough familiarity with New Zealand history to realise that this rule has always been standard. Even at a national level, one does not have to be Māori in order to stand for a Māori seat in Parliament – any citizen of any ethnicity can stand as a candidate in Māori electorates.

Why? The most basic, universal principle of democracy: an elected representative, is there to represent the interests of the electorate voters – not to represent himself or herself!

A few politicians appear to have forgotten this important fact, instead preferring to represent the interests of wealthy lobbyists – but it’s sad to see in this newspaper that some of our citizens are beginning to forget it too.

As for why Māori seats exist – that’s one of the checks and balances of democracy, intended to avoid a “tyranny of the majority”. It’s not about electing Māori – there are already plenty of Māori politicians – it’s about making sure that the one in six Kiwis who are Māori (but outnumbered in their own country) get to elect people whose main job is to represent their interests. Historically, this has worked well. New Zealand has a highly democratic and inclusive political system by world standards. It’s a legacy of which we should all be proud.

It was with dismay that I read Trevor Ammundsen’s muddled hypothesis about why one does not have to be Māori to stand in a Māori Ward (May 21). Trevor mightn’t have enough familiarity with New Zealand history to realise that this rule has always been standard. Even at a national level, one does not have to be Māori in order to stand for a Māori seat in Parliament – any citizen of any ethnicity can stand as a candidate in Māori electorates.

Why? The most basic, universal principle of democracy: an elected representative, is there to represent the interests of the electorate voters – not to represent himself or herself!

A few politicians appear to have forgotten this important fact, instead preferring to represent the interests of wealthy lobbyists – but it’s sad to see in this newspaper that some of our citizens are beginning to forget it too.

As for why Māori seats exist – that’s one of the checks and balances of democracy, intended to avoid a “tyranny of the majority”. It’s not about electing Māori – there are already plenty of Māori politicians – it’s about making sure that the one in six Kiwis who are Māori (but outnumbered in their own country) get to elect people whose main job is to represent their interests. Historically, this has worked well. New Zealand has a highly democratic and inclusive political system by world standards. It’s a legacy of which we should all be proud.


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It was with dismay that I read Trevor Ammundsen’s muddled hypothesis about why one does not have to be Māori to stand in a Māori Ward (May 21). Trevor mightn’t have enough familiarity with New Zealand history to realise that this rule has always been standard. Even at a national level, one does n…
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