Northland Māori are making a push for greater representation in local government, renewing calls for local Māori seats. Some say government intervention is necessary and that may include compulsory Māori seats. Pita Tipene of Ngāti Hine laments that local government legislation and processes are "shutting out our people".
According to TVNZ, Māori make up an estimated 50 per cent of the Northland population. As free-lance journalist Karl du Fresne writes in ‘Remedy to more Māori representation lies with them’ “that 50 per cent figure gives Northland Māori the potential to become highly influential and possibly even dominant in local government. The remedy is in their hands if only they choose to seize it. Isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?”
“What we're really talking about here is power through the back door. The advocates of guaranteed Māori representation want to bypass the democratic hurdles that other candidates for public office must leap over”.
“…….to grant special rights to any segment of the population, whether on the basis of race or any other factor, is a potentially lethal compromise of democratic principles, which hold that no group of voters should wield more power than others”.