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Claim Māori get more votes than Pākehā 'misinformation', says academic

15 May, 2022

Interview by Caeden Tipler, adapted by Athena Li-Watts

Māori studies professor and Te Rūnanga-Ā-iwi o Ngāti Kahu chair Margaret Mutu warned that political leaders spreading misinformation and allowing attacks on Māori to continue unchallenged has dangerous implications. Photo: Supplied by Margaret Mutu. 

Listen to the full interview

National Party leader Christopher Luxon has ruled out working with Te Pāti Māori to form a coalition government this election.

Luxon stated that their parties' ideologies were simply too different, calling Te Pāti Māori "separatist” and “too extreme”. 

He pointed to New Zealand being “one country” with “one person, one vote” regarding their decision not to work with Te Pāti Māori. 

Under the MMP system, those on both the general and Māori electoral rolls get one party vote and one electorate vote.

Māori studies professor and Te Rūnanga-Ā-iwi o Ngāti Kahu chair, Margaret Mutu, told 95bFM’s The Wire that National's claim Māori get more votes than Pākehā is false.

Mutu stated that this belief dates back to British colonisation, when the Doctrine of Discovery, issued by the Vatican, was adopted into British law, enabling settlers to take over non-Christian indigenous peoples.

The Doctrine of Discovery was outlawed in the 1970s by the United Nations following the atrocities committed during World War II.

Mutu said racist ideologies underpin all administration and legislation in Aotearoa, connected to the historical neglect of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi allowed British immigration into Aotearoa, given that Māori would retain sovereignty. But this was never adhered to by the British.

“It has taken us a very long time, almost 200 years, to have that put into their legislation.”

Despite this, Mutu said there are still Pakeha who will not give up the Doctrine of Discovery or white supremacist ideologies.

“They will do anything they can to ensure Māori get no say in this country, and if they do have some form of representation, it is only in terms dictated by Pakeha.”

She highlighted that the Doctrine of Discovery and colonisation have severely disadvantaged Māori.

Māori are overrepresented in poverty statistics, and as of March 2023, there are five Māori children living in poverty for every two Pakeha children.

Currently, there are only seven seats allocated to Māori in parliament. There would need to be 20 seats to be proportionate to population.

The seven Māori seats can be abolished if 50% of parliament votes to do so. In contrast, abolishing a general seat takes a 75% vote.

According to Mutu, Māori upholding their rights, and exercising Mana Motuhake, scare many Pakeha, including those of the National party.

“They will make up whatever they think will convince people that Māori are somehow privileged.”

Mutu believes that the current government is not adequately protecting Māori and that Māori ministers are being cowed into silence.

She warned that political leaders spreading misinformation and allowing attacks on Māori to continue unchallenged has dangerous implications. 

“What they are trying to do is to reach those who still want white supremacy to remain in this country.”