Drive on to boost Maori Census participation

By Mike Dinsdale


Northland Maori are a big focus of next month's Census, the number of Maori in the country being used to determine things from targeted health funding to the number of Maori electorate seats.

The 2013 Census will take place on March 5, seeking a snapshot of New Zealand's resident population on the day.

The information gathered by Statistics New Zealand is used to help future planning. Some Maori have been reluctant to take part in the Census and this year there's a big push to boost Maori participation, with politicians, health advocates, educators, te reo exponents, youth and iwi leaders urging their people to take part.

"Historically, Northland Maori have experienced a high 'undercount' in Census participation," Statistics NZ community liaison adviser Rowan Tautari said.

"This is significant, given that in the 2006 Census Maori were 43.9 per cent of the Far North population and 25.2 per cent of the population in the Whangarei district. In the same year, Maori comprised 14.6 per cent of the population of New Zealand."

Northland Labour List MP Shane Jones said participation in the Census was part of belonging to the modern New Zealand community and he dismissed as ridiculous suggestions Maori shouldn't take part because it undermined their sovereignty.

He also said fears that the State was hoarding personal information were unfounded.

He said the essence of the Census was to produce accurate information about the make-up of communities to help central and local government allocate funding for roads, schools, hospitals and other services.

Mr Jones said the next Maori Electoral Option would take place from March 25-July 24 and Maori electorates would survive only while Maori were associated with the seats.

Results of the Maori Electoral Option along with the Census data were used to determine the number of Maori and general electorates in Parliament and revise electorate boundaries.

Four Maori seats were established in 1867 to give Maori a direct say in Parliament. In 1975 the Maori Electoral Option was introduced and Maori seats were increased to five before the first MMP election in 1996. Since 2002 there have been seven.

Census 2013 questions can be answered online as well as on forms delivered to households. For more information visit www.census.govt.nz or toll-free on 0800 CENSUS (0800 236 787).

- Northern Advocate

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