Maori Seats: Government Empowered Racism

Maori Electoral seats. Do we need them? Do they give benefit to our society? Are they just there to troll us into stereotypes (I’ll get into that later)? Are they really, as the ACT party is saying, racist?

Let’s start by defining racism. In particular, institutional racism. According to www.understandingrace.org:

the embeddedness of racially discriminatory practices in the institutions, laws, and agreed upon values and practices of a society.

According to Wikipedia:

In the case of institutional racism, certain racial groups may be denied rights or benefits, or receive preferential treatment.

Let’s apply Maori seats to both definitions. Starting with the first:

  • It is a concept embedded in society;
  • It does discriminate by race;
  • It does relate to practices in institutions and laws;
  • It does relate to supposedly “agreed upon” values and practices (by being legislation, it does).
Now, let us move to the Wikipedia definition:
  • Persons of certain racial groups are denied the right to be part of the Maori electoral roll;
  • “New Zealand Maori or persons of New Zealand Maori descent” have preferential treatment, as they do have access to an electoral roll that others do not have access to.

So from two separate definitions, Maori Seats are clearly an example of racism.

The next question I want to ask is, are the Maori Seats useful to society? These seats were formed in the 1868 to get Maori involved with our political system, and were only meant to be temporary. Before 1975, James Carroll was the only Maori to enter Parliament in the general roll when he won the Waiapu electorate in 1893. Now, less than half of the Maori in Parliament got there through the Maori Electorates. It seems to me that these seats have served their purpose! More on the Maori seats, and Maori MPs in general can be found at http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/politics/parliaments-people/maori-mps.

If I were Maori (and no, I’m not. Did you guess?) I would be offended by the Maori seats. To me, having seats in Parliament simply because of my race makes it look like my race could not get in by their own accord. To me, that makes us believe the stereotypes of Maori being lazy, and not, as the colloquial saying goes “able to organise a piss-up in a brewery”.

Furthermore, if we look at the most common reason given for Maori seats, “they are a founding partner in this nation!”, we surely should have a English Electoral Roll. And no, I don’t mean white-man seats. I mean for “English or people of English descent”. It would be surprisingly few people, if you use the British Home Office’s definition of that. But that is something I would fit into, so where’s my preferential treatment that is justified by being a “founding partner” in this nation? Oh… That would be racist… Funny that…

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About Daniel Farrell

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Posted on June 10, 2011, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wholeheartedly agree.
    Why does the New Zealand population continue to tolerate this arrangement?

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