Minority Representation and the Maori Electoral Roll in New Zealand

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 2, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

This article examines issues of minority representation, and in particular whether the separate voting register for the indigenous Māori people in New Zealand helps or hinders their voting strength. Electoral law in New Zealand has long provided a separate electoral roll for Māori voters in order to help ensure that the group is sufficiently represented in the nation‘s parliament. Additionally, in 1993, the New Zealand government introduced a mixed member proportional voting system designed, among other things, to empower minority voters and enhance the representation of minority groups in the legislature. The advent of proportional voting and the recent formation of the Māori Party in New Zealand, however, raise questions about the sustainability and necessity of the traditional dual constituency system. This article argues that even under the new proportional voting system, the separate Māori roll is still needed to ensure adequate representation for Māori. Moreover, a better understanding of an electoral system such as New Zealand‘s, and its distinct awareness of minority representation, also helps contribute to ongoing debates in the United States regarding the effectiveness of majority rule and race-conscious districting, as well as the best legal framework for preserving the representational power of electoral minorities.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Seal Braswell is an Associate at Hunton & Williams, LLP.