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He Aha i Pērā Ai? The Māori prisoners’ voting rights report

Pre-publication version
Prisons Prisoners Maori New Zealand

This report addresses three claims that seek repeal of section 80(1)(d) of the Electoral Act 1993. It looks at the level of advice provided to Parliament and the Law and Order Select Committee and the consequent ongoing effects of the legislation on Māori, including the individual and collective exercise of tino rangatiratanga.

The Tribunal has found that the manner in which Crown officials offered support and advice to the Law and Order Select Committee failed to provide sufficient information about the specific effect the legislation would have on Māori and Crown rights and obligations under the Treaty. By failing to provide adequate advice, the Crown failed to actively protect Māori rights under the Treaty and failed in its duty of informed decision-making under the principle of partnership, which contributed to the Act being in breach of the Treaty.

Having found that the Crown has acted inconsistently with the Treaty principles, the Tribunal has recommended:

  • the legislation is amended urgently to remove the disqualification of all prisoners from voting, irrespective of sentence;
  • the Crown start a process immediately to enable and encourage all sentenced prisoners and all released prisoners to be enrolled in time for the next general election in 2020; and
  • a process is implemented to ensure Crown officials provide properly informed advice on the likely impact that any Bill, including members’ Bills, will have on the Crown’s Treaty of Waitangi obligations.
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