30 Sep 2011

Few Maori in Australia vote in NZ elections - survey

8:40 am on 30 September 2011

A lecturer at Victoria University's School of Maori Studies says an online survey of Maori living in Australia shows most feel deprived of their voting rights.

Maria Bargh says the survey, which attracted 145 responses, was carried out between July and September.

The survey suggests 72% of Maori did not vote in the 2008 New Zealand election, and 55% will not vote in the 26 November election.

Dr Bargh says the survey wasn't intended to be scientific, but did confirm research done at Victoria in 2008, which found Maori living in Australia feel massively disenfranchised.

Among the reasons given for not voting in the New Zealand general election were a lack of information about the process and the belief they shouldn't vote since they live in Australia.

She says 79% were not aware there's a referendum this year on the voting system, which she says is a real concern as MMP has been very important for increasing Maori representation in Parliament.

Dr Bargh hopes the Electoral Commission will take close note of an internet survey as she says it has a significant role to play in educating Maori and other New Zealanders living overseas about their voting rights.