Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A Woman's Place - Maori Party 2011

When I looked at this in 2008 the Maori Party were the youngest party in Parliament.  No longer!

Historical representation of women:
The Maori Party has had five MPs so far in its history, and two of them have been women, making 40% representation. Tariana Turia has been co-leader, and has been a Minister outside of Cabinet as a result.  After the 2008 election they had a 40% female caucus (2/5).

Current representation of women:

Since Hone Harawira's resignation (and subsequent re-election for the Mana Party), the caucus is now evenly balanced - 2 men and 2 women.  There is also a balance in the co-leadership position.

2008 Maori Party selections:
Women represented across the whole list: 11 out of 19 (55%).  It should be noted that the electoral seats are more important than the list for the Maori Party, so far anyway.  In 2008 they selected women for two of the three Maori seats they didn't already hold, and one of those women (Rahui Katene) was successful.

2011 Maori Party selections:
The Maori Party have taken a different approach to their list from other parties, putting only some of their current MPs on it and ranking them relatively lowly.  There is clearly an intention from this to bring in new people if they go beyond overhang, by getting a higher proportion of the party vote than they would already have in the House by dint of winning a number of electorate seats.  This may be part of a succession plan for the Maori seats, ensuring they have people in Parliament who can work away on those seats held by Labour and Mana, and also set up those who will follow in the steps of Turia and Sharples in the future.

Women represented across the whole list:   out of 30 (27%).
Top 5 - Three (Kaapua Smith at 2, Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata at 3, Tina Porou at 4) 3/5 = 60%
Top 10 - Six (As for Top 5 plus Davina Murray at 6, Tariana Turia at 7, Josie Peita at 10) 6/10 = 60%
Top 17 - Eight (As for Top 10 plus Fallyn Flavell at 12, Aroha Rickus at 17) 8/17 = 47%

Women selected for electoral seats:  4 out of 11 (36%)

There are seven Maori seats and the Maori Party hold 4.  They are widely expected to retain at least three of these (with Te Tai Tonga, Rahui Katene's seat, looking somewhat vulnerable to Labour).  They aren't rated as having much chance of picking up any of the three seats held by other parties, and have selected men for all of those seats.  Thus they have selected 2 women out of the 7 Maori seats, both incumbents (29%).  The Maori Party also have candidates running in four general electorates - Hunua, Tauranga, Rongotai and Northland - with a gender balance of 2 and 2.  

This looks very much to me, from the outside, as a deliberate effort to increase women's representation, and indeed the voice of Wahine Maori in the political sphere.  I'd be very interested in any confirmation/contradiction of this from people actually involved in the Maori Party.

Likely future representation of women: 

Turia will be returned, and if the other three Maori Party MPs will win again they will maintain their current proportion of 40% women. If they lose Katene then they will be back to the 25% they had in the previous term.  

Other comments on candidate diversity:
The Maori Party is an unashamedly Maori political organisation.  All of their candidates list at least one iwi affiliation.  No doubt there will be some who also identify with other ethnic backgrounds too, but none are apparent from names/photos/profiles on my swift perusal.  There appears to be a bit of a range of age, in particular several younger women, one of whom is ranked at no. 2.  Very open to feedback giving info on other diversity issues too.

Maori Party list on their website
Index of A Women's Place posts for 2008 & 2011 - including National, Labour, Act, Conservative, NZ First, United Future and the Greens for 2011, along with this addition.

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