Electoral system needs review, adjusting

LETTER

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

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

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G R Webb - 17 days ago
Your treatise seems to be based on some idea that if there is the same racial mix proportion amongst the electorate as there is to those elected, then any disparity and its perceived effects disappears. Or to put it in the Gisborne context, if there were two more Maori councillors then the voice of Maori is heard, there is parity and the council will be fully cognisant of Maori hopes and aspirations.

Maori make up an estimated 50 percent of the local population. It follows that if Maori candidates put themselves forward for election and persuade other Maori people to support them, Maori councillors will be elected. Weight of numbers will ensure that.
If Maori engaged more actively in local government both as voters and candidates, 50 percent of Gisborne council seats could be occupied by Maori - possibly more, since non-Maori voters are likely to support good Maori candidates, just as they have done elsewhere in New Zealand.

That 50 percent figure gives Gisborne Maori the potential to become highly influential and possibly even dominant in local government. The remedy is in their hands if only they choose to seize it. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?

Weary Local - 17 days ago
Equal representation simply for the sake of representation is a good way to ensure the best person isn't always hired. Yes, representation is needed. But it shouldn't be a deciding factor.

Take gender, as an example.
Say a company has 12 staff - 6 male, 6 female. 1 male leaves.
They now have an opening - and there are 5 applications. 3 aren't suitable for the role, but the last 2 are strong contenders. One male, one female. The male is slightly less qualified than the female, in this case.
If we want the company to remain equally balanced then we should hire the male - maintain that 50:50 ratio. But she's better qualified. Not by much, but she is.
Best person for the job would be her, then - 'equality' be damned.

Same concept - a council shouldn't be governed by "you must have 3 of this ethnicity, 6 of this, and 1 of this" any more than a company. It's a poor way to decide things. I know a number of Maori who would be excellent managers, and some Caucasians who would be too. I know some who already are excellent. Likewise I know some of each who would be terrible at it.
Their ethnicity had nothing to do with their skill, or qualifications. It's down to the individual. Using ethnicity as a separating point in decisions like this is a bias, regardless of whether it's a point for or against.

Using it as a discerning factor makes about as much sense as using the star sign. It makes no difference to the work the individual has already or is willing to put in - that's on them and them alone, not their whole ethnic group.

Michael Sunderland, Brisbane - 17 days ago
Wally, Wally, Wally things do not come for free. Effort and time changes anything and everything. Catch up for a chat. Back home 2nd to the 5th December.

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