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Graeme Edgeler

Graeme Edgeler is a Wellington barrister with an interest in electoral and constitutional law. He writes the Legal Beagle blog for publicaddress.net.

A little known story of the Maori seats

On March 5, New Zealand held its census. And for four months starting next Monday, 25 March voting-age New Zealanders of Māori descent will have the option of switching between the Māori and general electoral rolls. The results of the census, and the Māori Option will be used to draw electorate boundaries for the next two general elections.

My post in late 2011 looking at the legality of this year’s Māori option is – as I predicted and as was predictable – now of academic interest at most. But there is an older – and I suspect, very little known – story of substantial importance to the Māori option. The story of how, prior to the 1996 census, and the boundary redrawing that followed in 1997, the Government Statistician decided to increase the number of Māori seats, because it seemed like a good idea....

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