Breaking: NZF likely to support Māori seats entrenchment bill

Usually the news issue doesn’t come out until tomorrow morning, but this news couldn’t wait.

in the news

Senior sources within both Labour and New Zealand First have confirmed New Zealand First is likely to support Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene’s Electoral (Entrenchment of Māori Seats) Amendment Bill at first reading.

The first reading debate will take place this evening.

The Bill will become the first of four entrenchment bills in the last ten years to make it to select committee stage.

But the Bill’s passage to a third and final reading remains uncertain. The Māori Affairs Select Committee is split – four government members and four opposition members – and National opposes the Bill, meaning the committee is unlikely to submit a “majority” report to the House.

Instead Labour and the Greens are likely to support the Bill’s passage with only minor amendments, New Zealand First is likely to support the Bill’s passage with major amendments (i.e. providing for a two-part referendum), and National is likely to oppose the Bill’s passage.

In July māui street revealed that New Zealand First were seriously considering supporting the Bill.  

In one sense, their support is surprising – Winston Peters is a long-time critic of the seats -  but in another sense it’s no surprise at all. The Bill is an opportunity for both parties in the Coalition to demonstrate their differences, and without putting the government at risk (Tirikatene’s Bill is a private member’s bill rather than a government bill).

In other words, Labour can reaffirm its commitment to Māori voters and the Māori seats, and New Zealand First can reaffirm their opposition. It’s politics all the way down.

But the Bill’s passage past a second reading remains unclear, and even if it were to make it to a third and final reading National must support it for entrenchment to occur (only a 75 percent majority can entrench an Act or provision).

This means the Bill is unlikely to pass in the end (even with New Zealand First and Green support), but it’s a very significant first nonetheless.  


in the house

The Māori Affairs Select Committee is taking submissions on the Ngāti Rangi Claims Settlement Bill. The Bill includes $17m in commercial redress – a combination of cash, assets and some commercial rights – and recognition that the Whangaehu River, flowing from its headwater in a Ruapehu crater lake to an outlet near Whanganui, is a living entity. The Bill also gives Ngāti Rangi the power to appoint iwi representatives to various conservation boards and local government management groups.

Submissions on the government’s draft Māori language strategy are still open. The vision is one million New Zealanders speaking basic Te Reo Māori by 2040. So far 300 submissions have been made. “We’re getting a diverse range of opinions, from a diverse range of people. It’s wonderful,” said Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta. (Translation: we’re getting good submissions, but we’re also getting submissions from rednecks).

in the media

The next issue arrives on Friday.