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Maori Roll campaign fails to fire

Published: 6:22PM Wednesday June 05, 2013 Source: ONE News

Infighting, splits and messy leadership quarrels are being blamed for the latest campaign to attract voters to the Maori Roll failing to fire.

For two months now, voters of Maori descent have been asked to choose which roll they want to be on for the next election.

A television advertisement tells Maori voters they do not get to choose which roll they want to be on again for another five years.

But halfway through the campaign, the Electoral Commission numbers, as at May 24, do not look good for Maori politicians, who need Maori voters to keep their jobs.

The 6774 voters moving from the General Roll to the Maori Roll are essentially cancelled out by the 6727 leaving it to go on the General Roll.

Maori academic Rawiri Taonui says this is "the outcome of division within the Maori Party, firstly with Hone Harawira, and the current battle between Te Ururoa Flavell and Pita Sharples over the leadership."

He said: "And what that's resulted in, I think, is that Maori voters have kind of given up on the dream of the Maori Party clean sweeping all the Maori seats."

But Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says there is more to the campaign's results than that.

"It's really bigger than that, than just leadership of this party or that party, or disputes within Maori. I believe it's the whole non-recognition of achievements of Maori in Parliament," Sharples said.

But it is the seats held by the Maori Party co-leaders that are losing the most voters.

And even though there is a by-election looming in Ikaroa-Rawhiti with the death of Labour MP Parekura Horomia, there are fewer voters there too.

The Electoral Commission figures show a loss of 338 Maori Roll voters in Te Tai Hauauru, the seat held by Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

In Sharples' Tamaki Makaurau electorate, the loss is 13, and in the vacant Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat it is 89.

"There needs to be a significant change in the direction and the rhetoric and the approach of the Maori Party if they were to survive an election," Taonui said.

When new Maori voters are factored in, the Maori Roll has attracted just 3400 additional voters so far. Normally this campaign attracts about 20,000 extra voters.

"I'm pretty disappointed," Sharples said.

The Maori Roll option closes on July 24, and ONE News political reporter Michael Parkin says on the current numbers, it is looking increasingly unlikely that an extra Maori seat will be created.