Understanding New Zealand: Voting Patterns of Maoris

One of the least surprising statistics in this entire study is that there is an extremely strong positive correlation between being Maori and voting for the Maori Party – this was 0.91. What might surprise some people, though, is the strength of the correlation with other parties.

The correlation between being Maori and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was 0.89, almost as strong as for voting for the Maori Party. This is because Maoris are greatly adversely affected by the cannabis laws, which are a major contributor to their disadvantaged position.

Because Maoris are more likely than non-Maoris to be arrested for cannabis offences, less likely to be offered diversion for those offences, more likely to stand trial for them, more likely to be given a custodial sentence for them and because they get longer average custodial sentences upon conviction for cannabis offences, there are plenty of reasons for Maoris to vote for the ALCP.

The correlation between being Maori and voting Internet MANA was 0.84, also very strong, but not quite as strong as the above two, perhaps because Internet MANA, despite mostly targeting its rhetoric to disadvantaged Maoris and Pacific Islanders, also appealed to a high-tech young Pakeha and Asian demographic.

Between being Maori and voting New Zealand First the correlation was 0.66, which is a reflection mostly of how well this party does in the Maori electorates, where they regularly score more than 10% of the party vote. It also reflects the degree – surprising to many – that nationalist sentiments exist among Maoris.

Another unsurprising statistic is the strength of the relationship between being Maori and voting for the National Party in 2014 – this was -0.75. Curiously, this figure of -0.75 was also the degree of correlation between being Maori and turnout rate in 2014. Perhaps it reflects the degree of Maori disenfranchisement from the political system.

Neither it is surprising that Maoris do not like to vote for far-right parties. The correlation between being Maori and voting Conservative in 2014 was -0.53, and with voting ACT in 2014 it was -0.42. This is probably a function of culture, in that Maoris are very unlikely to vote for parties that put money above people.

Interestingly, the correlation between being Maori and voting for the Green Party in 2014 was not significant (-0.09), despite the fact that Green voters are significantly wealthier than average and Maoris considerably poorer. This was the only party to have no significant correlation in either direction between voting for them in 2014 and being Maori.

This reflects the fact that Maoris with middle class pretensions vote Green well before they vote National, and that many Maoris are young and so in the student demographic that heavily votes Green.


This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

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