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. Until 1975, Māori voters were only allowed on the Māori roll.
When New Zealand introduced the MMP voting system in 1993, the law was changed to vary the number of Māori electorates according to the size of the Māori electoral population, using a similar quota to that used to determine the number of General electorates. Put simply, this change has meant if more Māori enrol on the Māori roll, it can result in more Māori electorates.
Since 1993, the number of Māori electorates has grown steadily, from four to seven.
FACTORS THAT CAN IMPACT ON THE NUMBER OF MĀORI ELECTORATES
The following factors may influence the number of Māori electorates:
- population change since the last census
- the number of people included in the census
- how people answer the census Māori descent question
- the level of enrolment by people who have indicated they are of Māori descent on the General roll or Māori roll
- the proportion of electors of Māori descent who are on the Māori roll at the end of the Option period.