New Zealand electorates
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An electorate is a voting district for elections to the Parliament of New Zealand. In informal discussion, electorates are often called seats. The most formal description, electoral district, is rarely seen outside of electoral legislation. Before 1996, all Members of Parliament were directly chosen for office by the voters of an electorate. In 2008 and 2011 under the MMP electoral system, 70 of the usually 120 seats in Parliament are filled by electorate members, with the remainder being filled from party lists in order to achieve proportional representation (there were 69 electorate seats in 2005). The 70 electorates are made up from 63 general and 7 Māori electorates.
Originally, electorates were drawn up based on political and social links, with little consideration for differences in population. Each electorate was allocated a different number of MPs (up to three) in order to balance population differences, but this was only partly successful. Eventually, a new system was introduced — each electorate would elect one MP, and boundaries would be drawn based on population. However, a special country quota meant that rural seats were allowed to contain fewer people than urban seats, preserving an inequality (and over-representing farmers). The quota persisted until 1945.
Today, electorate boundaries are determined by the Representation Commission. The Commission consists of:
- Four government officials — the Government Statistician, the Surveyor-General, the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Chairperson of the Local Government Commission.
- A representative of the governing party or coalition, and a representative of the opposition block.
- A chairperson (often a judge) nominated by the other members, with the exception of Chairperson of the Local Government Commission.
Boundaries are reviewed after each New Zealand Census, which occurs every five years. The South Island is guaranteed to have 16 general seats, with the remainder of voters (North Island and Māori) being divided into electorates of the same population as the South Island ones. The population size of electorates determined with such a procedure is called the 'South Island quota'. Electorates may vary by 5% of the average population size. This has caused the number of list seats in Parliament to decline as the population is experiencing 'northern drift' (i.e. the population of the North Island, especially around Auckland, is growing faster than that of the South Island).
In a continuation of 'northern drift', the North Island got an extra electoral seat for the 2008 general election. The need for an extra seat was determined from the results of the 2006 Census. The extra seat brought the total number of electoral seats to 70, and reduced the number of list seats to 50.
The Parliaments elected in 2005 and 2008 had more than 120 members – 121 in 2005 and 122 in 2008 – an overhang caused by the Māori Party winning more electorate seats than its proportion of the party vote would give it.
For the qualifications required to vote, which were gradually extended, see History of voting in New Zealand.
Over the years, there have been two types of "special" electorates created for particular communities. The first were special goldminers' electorates, created for participants in the Otago Goldrush — goldminers did not usually meet the residency and property requirements in the electorate they were prospecting in, but were numerous enough to warrant political representation. Two goldminers' electorates existed, the first began in 1863 and both ended in 1870.
Much more durable have been the Māori electorates, created in 1868 to give separate representation to Māori citizens. Although originally intended to be temporary, they came to function as reserved positions for Māori, ensuring that there would always be a Māori voice in Parliament. Until 1996 the number of Māori electorates was fixed at four, significantly under-representing Māori in Parliament. Since the introduction of MMP, the number of seats can change with the number of Māori voters who choose to go on the Māori roll rather than the general roll.
|Hauraki-Waikato||Mahuta, NanaiaNanaia Mahuta||Labour||Waikato region; New seat replacing the old Tainui seat.|
|Ikaroa-Rawhiti||Whaitiri, MekaMeka Whaitiri||Labour||eastern North Island from East Cape to Wairarapa|
|Tamaki Makaurau||Sharples, PitaPita Sharples||Māori||central and southern Auckland|
|Te Tai Hauauru||Turia, TarianaTariana Turia||Māori||western coast of the North Island and South Waikato|
|Te Tai Tokerau||Harawira, HoneHone Harawira||Mana||Upper North Island|
|Te Tai Tonga||Tirikatene, RinoRino Tirikatene||Labour||Wellington, the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura and the Chatham Islands|
|Waiariki||Flavell, Te UruroaTe Ururoa Flavell||Māori||Bay of Plenty, Taupo, Coromandel|
- "Calculating future Māori and General Electorates". Electoral Commission (New Zealand). 1 October 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
- "North Island to get additional electoral seat in 2008". Radio New Zealand. 1 February 2007. Retrieved 1 February 2007.[dead link]
- Electorate profiles, produced by the Parliamentary Library, New Zealand Parliament
- Map of electorates with boundaries, produced by the Elections NZ website, run by the Electoral Commission, the Electoral Enrolment Centre, the Representation Commission, and the Justice Sector.