As a New Zealand Māori, or a descendant of a New Zealand Māori, you have the choice of enrolling to vote at parliamentary elections on a Māori roll or a General roll.
Why is my choice important?
Your choice is important as it determines the type of electorate member of parliament who represents you and for which you get to vote. It also helps decide, at the time of a Māori Electoral Option exercise, the number of Māori electorates there will be in parliament. The more Māori enrolled on the Māori roll can mean more Māori electorates. Conversely, the more Māori enrolled on the general roll can mean fewer Māori electorates.
What is the background to the Māori seats in Parliament?
Four Māori seats were established by the 1867 New Zealand parliament to give Māori a direct say in parliament. Before 1867 there were "General" seats. Today, there are three different kinds of members of parliament (MPs):
When do I choose which roll to go on?
If you are enrolling for the first time you can choose which type of roll to go on by signing the appropriate panel on the enrolment form. Once you have made your choice you cannot change until the next Māori Electoral Option exercise.
What is the Māori Electoral Option exercise?
Every five years, a Māori Electoral Option exercise form is sent to everyone on the electoral rolls who have said they are of New Zealand Māori descent. This form is used to choose whether you want to be on the Māori roll or the General roll.
Why should I take part in the Māori Electoral Option exercise?
Taking part in the Option means you get to have a direct say about which electoral roll you want to vote on - the Māori roll or the general roll. You also help set the number of Māori and general electorates. The more Māori enrolled on the Māori roll can mean more Māori electorates. Conversely, the more Māori enrolled on the general roll can mean fewer Māori electorates. It is in your interest to take part in this process so that you are represented the way you want.
How do I take part in the Māori Electoral Option exercise?
If you say you are a New Zealand Māori or a descendant of a New Zealand Māori when you first enrol, a Māori Electoral Option form will be sent to you in the mail. This form allows you to change the type of roll you are on (either from Māori to General or General to Māori). The form will be sent to the most recent address we have for you so it is important that if you change address you let the registrar of electors know.
How does my choice affect my vote on polling day?
Your choice of the type of roll you want to be on decides whether you will vote in a Māori electorate or a general electorate for your electorate vote at a general election or by-election. Your choice does not affect your party vote, because all New Zealanders choose between the same parties for their party vote, whether they are on the Māori roll or the general roll. Your party vote is for the political party you want to be most represented in parliament.
I am a Pacific Islands Polynesian. Can I be on the Māori roll?
No. It is only for New Zealand Māori and descendents of New Zealand Māori. Cook Islands Māori and other Pacific Islanders who are qualified to enrol must go on the General roll.