What is the Māori Electoral Option?

The Māori Electoral Option is a chance for all enrolled voters of Māori descent to choose which electoral roll to be on — the general roll or the Māori roll.

Māori roll or general roll?

If you are Māori, you can choose between the Māori roll and the general roll when you first enrol to vote. Once you're enrolled, you can only change rolls during the Māori Electoral Option, which is usually held every 5 years.

What does your choice mean for you?

Your roll choice affects the way you vote in parliamentary elections and local elections.

Parliamentary elections

In a general election, you vote for a candidate to represent the area you live in (your electorate), and the party you want to be in government.

If you're on the Māori roll, you vote for a candidate in the Māori electorate you live in.

If you're on the general roll, you vote for a candidate in the general electorate you live in.

You can choose from the same list of political parties whichever roll you are on.

Local elections

In local elections, we choose who represents us on our councils.

The roll you are on may affect the way you vote in local elections.

If you’re on the Māori roll and your local authority has a Māori ward or constituency, you’ll vote for a candidate in the Māori ward.

What is an electoral roll?

The option helps set the number of Māori electorates

The Māori Electoral Option is held after each 5-yearly population census and runs for 4 months. The number of Māori and general electorates is set using results from the option and the census.

The number of Māori enrolled on the Māori roll at the end of the option period could mean that the number of Māori electorates increases, decreases, or stays the same. The more people on the Māori roll, the more Māori electorates there could be.

The number of Māori enrolled on the Māori roll also helps to determine the boundaries of Māori and general electorates when the boundaries are reviewed.

How are electoral boundaries decided?

How to take part in the option

If you said you were of Māori descent when you enrolled to vote, you'll be sent a pack in the mail at the beginning of the option period. You then have the opportunity to change rolls if you wish to.

The next Māori Electoral Option is in 2024

If you're already enrolled, the next opportunity to change rolls will be in 2024. The last option was held in 2018.

View the results of the 2018 Māori Electoral Option

Results of Māori Electoral Options 1997 to 2018

Year Changes to electoral roll type New enrolments of Māori descent Impact on rolls Total rolls at end of option
  Māori roll to general roll General roll to Māori roll Māori roll  General roll Net impact on Māori roll +/(-) Net impact on general roll +/(-) Māori on Māori roll Māori on general roll
2018 10,163 7,956 3,407 1,808 1,200 4,015 247,494 (52.4%) 224,755 (47.6%)
2013 8,261 8,859 6,454 2,721 7,052 2,123 228,718 (55%) 184,630 (45%)
2006 7,294 14,294 7,914 2,366 14,914 (4,634) 222,362 (58%) 163,615 (42%)
2001 4,866 13,872 15,138 3,436 24,144 (5,570) 188,366 (55%) 151,889 (45%)
1997 7,040 14,471 2,664 10,517 17,948 (4,767) 163,310 (54%) 141,229 (46%)

Māori representation in Parliament

Māori representation in Parliament began in 1867 and has gone through quite a few changes since then. Today, Māori MPs are elected to Parliament from the Māori electorates, general electorates and party lists.

Other places you can go to learn more about the history of Māori representation in New Zealand are:

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