Regional | Māori

Kaupapa Māori polling booth opens

One of the first kaupapa Māori polling booths has opened at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland, staffed by seniors of the school.

The Electoral Commission has established 15 kaupapa Māori polling booths around the country.

The Electoral Commission’s Hone Mathews says it’s hoped this will address complaints about unfair treatment and institutional racism that Māori voters have experienced in previous elections, with a pilot kaupapa Māori polling booth set up during the last election.

“There weren’t enough voting rolls. There were names that weren’t pronounced properly, all those sorts of things. We are trying hard to change.”

“At the last elections in 2020, we had one at Rākaumangamanga in Rāhuipōkeka. But we’ve expanded to 15 this year because we saw the benefits of these types of places, developed within the community, within their own tikanga.”

Principal Hare Rua says the booth at the kura has been running for many elections but this is the first time the kura has been involved. He says this is a great way to introduce students to politics.

“Their eyes have been opened to the political world. This isn’t the first but it is a beginning. We plant the seed in the current students working here and when the next election rolls around, they will be running the polling booth.”

Pounamu Fuller is a year-13 student at Waititi and it’s the first time he’s been involved in elections. While he is not yet old enough to vote, he believes he is making a difference.

“It’s a big thing to support our nannies and papas and those rangatahi who are over the age of 18 to come here and vote.”