9 Nov 2023

Electoral Commission probes concerns about voting at Te Pāti Māori candidate's marae

8:43 pm on 9 November 2023
Manurewa marae CEO Takutai Moana Natasha Kemp.

Te Pāti Māori's Takutai Tarsh Kemp. Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

The Electoral Commission is investigating concerns raised over a voting place at Manurewa Marae, where Te Pāti Māori candidate Takutai Tarsh Kemp is the chief executive.

Kemp won the Tāmaki Makaurau electorate by four votes over Labour's Peeni Henare, but due to the tight result a judicial recount of the seat will start on Monday.

Acting Electoral Commission chair Jane Meares told Checkpoint concerns had been raised over the use of the marae as a voting place.

But she said the marae, like all voting places, had been carefully assessed, and the assessment found it was appropriate.

"It was recommended to us by the community, because it's extensively used by them, because health services are provided there.

"Acknowledging that people need the opportunity to vote at a range of voting places at an electorate, and having assurances that the candidate would not be involved in any way at the voting place, we decided that we would use it."

The commission also received complaints about activities at the marae, including whether food being provided at the voting could be considered treating.

Treating is the practice of offering food, drink, or entertainment for the purpose of influencing a vote, and is an offence under the Electoral Act.

"We've had some complaints about voters being offered food during the advance voting period, and we made sure that the marae understood the rules around treating.

"My understanding is it's quite a high bar for the offence of treating to be engaged," Meares said.

She said it was inappropriate to speak further while the commission worked through some of the complaints, and if it found the concerns were not valid, it may not speak further at all.

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