Māori seats: Winston Peters appears to have second thoughts

  • 19/07/2017

Winston Peters appears to be having second thoughts on a binding referendum to decide the future of the Māori seats - he now says it should be "up to Māori" to decide whether they should stay or go.

The NZ First leader told his party's annual conference on Sunday he would insist on the referendum if his party was part of the next government.

He didn't specify who should take part, and it was assumed he was talking about all voters.

Since then the party's Māori affairs spokesperson, Pita Paraone, has said the decision should be left to Māori.

Mr Peters agrees with that.

"Of course it should be up to Māori to decide if the seats go, but I'm making a speech about it very shortly and I will tell you the full parameters of that," he told the NZME.

"I've heard what has been said by people who have been interviewed, Pita and maybe others, and the question is whether it is full conscription and I'll have that answer in a speech I'm giving shortly."

On Tuesday, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira told The AM Show the seats ensure Māori politicians are held accountable for Māori issues, and Māori will shun politics if the seats are axed.

"If there's going to be a referendum, make it a referendum of Māori voters.  If Māori voters choose that they don't want the seats, let them go, but that's not going to happen," Mr Harawira said.

The question is whether a referendum should involve all voters or just Māori roll voters.

Or should it be Māori who are on the Māori roll and those who are on the general roll?

Electoral Commission statistics show 55 percent are on the Māori roll and 45 percent are on the general roll.

Māori have the option of being on either roll, but not both.