Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Maori voting, early 1920s

I found this interesting article in the Auckland Star of 17 January 1923 today.
"The lodging of a petition against the return of one of the Maori members of Parliament has given some prominence to the subject of Maori elections, says the "Dominion". Many New Zealanders no doubt assume without question that the system followed in the polling for native members is the same as that followed in the polling for European representatives. The fact is, however, that it differs considerably.

"First of all, there is no Maori roll. There is provision in the law for the compilation of such a roll, but so far none has been compiled. The reason is, probably, that a roll would be useless unless enrolment was compulsory. The native does not take readily to systems of registration, as many registrars of births and deaths have cause to know. If a roll were used it is likely that comparatively few natives would register voluntarily, and most of the voting would have to be "by declaration," so that things would be little better than they are now.

"When the Maori elector enters a polling booth on election-day he is required to state his full name, his iwi (tribe), his hapu (sub-tribe), and his kainga (place of abode.) These particulars are inscribed on the counterfoil of a voting paper. Then the elector is required to state the name of the candidate for whom he desires to vote, and the returning officer writes it upon the voting paper. The returning officer and a Maori associate are the only persons permitted to be present when a Maori elector votes. The officer, after recording the vote, puts his name or his initials on the paper and hands it to the associate, who similarly signs or initials it. The part of the paper on which the vote is noted is detachyable from that on which the particulars concerning the elector appear.

"No scrutineer is permitted to be present in the booth during voting. Secrecy has to be preserved concerning the native's vote, just as it has to be preserved concerning the European's. Immediately after the poll has closed scrutineers are admitted so that they may witness the counting of the votes."

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