History of the Māori electoral option

In 1975 the Labour government introduced a 'Māori electoral option', to be held alongside (or following) each census.history-Tirikatene_2.jpg

This allowed electors of Māori descent to choose whether they enrolled in general or Māori seats. In 1976, however, the newly elected National government decided that the number of Māori seats was to remain fixed at four - whatever the outcome of the subsequent options.

Counting Trees

In 1890 the government decided to set up a polling station at Maungapohatu, deep in the Urewera ranges, an area largely inaccessible to Europeans. After trekking for six days through thick bush and mist, the returning officer, J. T. Large, arrived to find that most of the people had left for Whakatane.

Those that remained told him that he would 'get no votes except those of the trees standing round', but he eventually persuaded some men to cast votes. Despite getting lost and injuring his foot, Large declared his 14-day round trip had achieved its aim of 'maintaining friendly relations' with 'this isolated tribe'.





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Last updated: 18 February 2013