Warning marae billboards may mislead

11:07 pm on 11 August 2014

An academic says he's surprised that some marae are allowing a single political party to put up election billboards - such as the nine the Maori Party are erecting on marae.

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A professor of history from the Auckland University of Technology, Paul Moon, said some viewers could interpret those billboards as suggesting that a marae supports only one party.

Mr Moon said marae represented the people who belonged to them, and those people could have many political beliefs that should be represented.

He said it could make some voters feel their views were not appreciated, unless they supported the favoured political party.

Some marae might be reacting to other parties opposing the idea of Maori seats in Parliament, and choosing to support parties that endorsed the seats.

A spokesperson at one marae, Ruapeka near Tirau, said putting up a Maori Party sign was a way to help people know that every election vote counted.

And a Maori Party candidate said it made sense for marae to put up political billboards, because it was the ideal location to discuss election issues.

The party's Te Tai Hauauru candidate, Chris McKenzie, said he had at least six of his signs up at marae, including at his home marae of Ruapeka.

Mr McKenzie said there were diverse views coming from marae, and if any member of that marae asked for a sign to be put up, it would likely agree.

He says the marae was the ideal place to hold debate, because it highlights political issues, and that Tariana Turia's marae has been putting her signs up for 18 years.