New Zealand First has made a binding referendum on retaining or abolishing the Maori seats part of their election campaign.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters made the announcement at the party's convention in Auckland this afternoon.
“In 1986 the Royal Commission on the electoral system recommended the Maori seats should be abolished should MMP be adopted,” says Winston.
“Today I see a numberof Maori in Parliament who are the match for anyone else there.”
He says Maori want what all other New Zealanders want: a safe, affordable home; an easily accessible health system; an education system ‘with escalators onto which any child can step, and go as far as they wish'; and First World jobs and incomes.
However, he blames the ‘Treaty industry' for enriching an elite group of Maori at the expense of the rest.
He adds Maori are ‘voting with their feet' and leaving the Maori roll in droves.
“Today a majority of those entitled to be on the Maori roll are not, they are on the general roll.
“The fact is Maori don't need to be told they are not good enough to be equal, or that somehow they should be handicapped, that somehow they should be pigeon-holed.
“That's a terrible message to send young Maori.
“In the future that is coming, and it is here already: Maori don't need the Maori seats. They don't need tokenism.”
In addition to the referendum on Maori seats, New Zealand First is also promising a second referendum on maintaining or reducing the size of parliament to 100 MPs.