By Lillian Hanly Reporter
The New Zealand Māori Council believes this election has presented a once in a generation opportunity to the government to make transformational change.
Executive director Matthew Tukaki says that Māori came out to vote in droves resulting in a significant number of Māori MPs returning and entering Parliament.
Tukaki called it a landslide not only for Labour but for Māori and sees this as an opportunity to take hold of social policy issues that affect Māori in particular.
Transformational policy for the council would include looking into outstanding Waitangi Tribunal claims, problems in Oranga Tamariki and building affordable housing.
Tukaki also sees it as an opportunity for more Cabinet positions for Māori in the government.
He said MPs Willie Jackson and Peeni Henare in particular should be rewarded with those roles for the work they have done so far.
Tukaki pointed to record investments in Whānau Ora and work in the area of Māori health but said much more needed to be done.
He believes having more Māori sitting at the Cabinet table will allow for more goals to be met.
Tukaki stated that the amount of support for Labour in the party vote meant that whatever happened, everyone at the Cabinet table will need to take more notice of the world of Māori affairs.
The Māori Council would also be using the record voter turnout to push for more Māori electorate seats this government term.
Currently there are only seven Māori seats
Tukaki pointed to the number of Māori enrolled to vote, saying this should translate into at least 10 seats according to the number of people needed to make up an electorate.
He said 506,000 Māori were enrolled to vote and only 30,000-35,000 people were needed to make up a general electorate seat.
The last Census specified the electoral population quota for each Māori electorate to be 67,582 people, so the increased number of enrolled voters may only equal one more seat.
However, the 2018 Census created difficulties for calculating the number of Māori in each area.
Tukaki was looking to 2023, a Census year and an election year, and will be mounting a case to obtain up to three more seats for Māori as well as addressing issues about the Māori Electoral Option.