Four Māori seats were established by the 1867 New Zealand Parliament to give Māori a direct say in Parliament.
In 1975 the government introduced the Māori Electoral Option to be held alongside (or following) each census. This allowed electors of Māori descent to choose whether they enrolled in general or Māori seats.
How did MMP change the Māori Electoral Option?
The Māori seats were retained under the MMP voting system introduced in the 1990s. Their number was allowed to increase or decrease according to the results of the regular Māori electoral option.
A special Option was run following the 1993 referendum that saw MMP introduced as New Zealand’s preferred electoral system. This Option saw more Māori registering on the Māori Roll and resulted in the number of Māori electorates rising from four, under the previous system, to five. Subsequent Māori Electoral Options have seen the number of Māori electorates increase to seven.
Before the first MMP election in 1996 the number of Māori seats was increased, for the first time in their 129-year history, to five. Since 2002 there have been seven.
Will my choice have any impact on how I vote in council or District Health Board elections?
The electoral roll type you choose may have an impact on your vote in a local authority or council election if your local authority has created Māori Wards or Constituencies under the Local Electoral Act 2001.
If you choose to go on the Māori Roll and your local authority decides to create a Māori Ward or Constituency, you would have to vote for the candidate in the Māori Ward.
Why do I have to complete the Māori descent question on the enrolment form?
So we can identify those people who are Māori or of Māori descent. This information is used to send Māori Electoral Option forms to those who declare themselves as being New Zealand Māori or descendants of New Zealand Māori.