Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This is a continuation of Nga korero o te wa, digest of Maori news and views, which I produced from 1994 to 2003.
I will try to post various news bits and analysis as they come to hand.
I'll start by recapping some of what I discussed on Maori television tonight.
I've been looking at the results of the New Zealand parliamentary elections, particularly as they pertain to the seven Maori seats.
Some points to note.
The new Maori Party won four of the seven Maori electorate seats, but only took enough party list votes to cover two of them. That means there will be an overhang, with 122 seats in Parliament instead of 120.
The party's decision to chase the list votes, rather than a pure play for the electorates, caused some internal criticism. Former Alliance president Matt McCarten, who was providing some political advice, counselled against it. The result of the election showed two reasons it was wrong:
- It diluted the message the party was trying to send Maori voters. Rather than offering them the seductive two for one choice - vote for the Maori Party candidate for the seat, get the Labour Maori MP back via the list vote - voters were torn.
- The party lost the opportunity to build up some goodwill. The prospect of it forming a coalition with a Don Brash-led National Party government was so remote as to be almost unthinkable, so some working relationship with Labour is inevitable if the party is to make any headway with its programme (whatever that may be). By taking 1.6 percent of the party vote (which is essentially wasted), the party lost the opportunity to build up some goodwill. Labout counts that 1.6 percent as a loss against its total.
It also ate into the Green vote. In 2002 the Greens won 10.7 percent of the party vote in the Maori seats, which translates into a boost of a couple of percentage points overall. In 2005 they scored 3 percent, less than the 5 percent they scored overall, so the Maori vote will actually drag them down slightly.
The Maori Party could have justified endorsing the Greens for the list vote fair reward for their stand against the Foreshore and Seabed Act. Or it could have let voters choose. Either way, it would have been a smarter use of the MMP system.
As it was, Labour's share of the list vote in the Maori seats went up on the night from 53.7% to 55%, compared with 41% overall.
The Maori Party got 27.1%, which accounted for most of its 16% overall.
Only 4.3% of Maori gave their list vote to National, about the same as last election and well shore of that party's 40% overall total.
Winston Peters' sustained efforts to distance himself from his Maori support base finally got through, with the Maori electorates giving him the same 6% support as the general electorates, well short of the almost 15% he got in 2002. The honeymoon is well and truly over.
The counting of the special votes on Saturday is unlikely to change matters greatly in the Maori seats. Of interest will be the overseas votes. The Maori Party made special trips to Australia to encourage expatriates to vote for it. Since there were only 370 overseas votes across the seats last election, it will be interesting to see if the airfare was justified.
Coming up. Should defeated MPs hang around on the list, and why the Foreshore and Seabed isn't that big a deal.

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