Representation of ethnic groups in government
The proportion of elected Members of Parliament (MPs) who identify themselves as of Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian ethnicity.
The representation of different ethnic groups in government can be seen as an indicator of political representation more generally. Representative political institutions engage a wide range of communities in the political process, draw on the talents and skills of the broadest group of people, and provide checks and balances on the use of political power.
Current level and trends
Following the 2008 general election, 31 out of the 122 Members of Parliament (25 percent) self-identified as being of Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian ethnicity. This was up from 21 percent in 2005. Under the first-past-the-post electoral system, representation of these ethnic groups in Parliament increased from 6 percent in 1984 to 8 percent in 1993, then rose sharply to 17 percent in the first mixed-member-proportional election held in 1996. There was little change in 1999, but the proportion increased at each subsequent general election.
In 2008, 16 percent of MPs identified themselves as Māori, down slightly from 17 percent in 2005. The proportions of MPs identifying as Pacific peoples or Asian in 2008 (4 percent and 5 percent respectively) were the highest recorded. Pacific peoples and Asian ethnicities were first represented in Parliament in 1993 and 1996 respectively.
A similar proportion of Māori were elected to Parliament in 2008 as the Māori share of the New Zealand population (16 percent of MPs identified as Māori compared with 15 percent of the total population in 2006). The proportion of Pacific peoples in Parliament (4 percent) was smaller than their share of the population (7 percent), while the Asian ethnic group had the lowest representation (5 percent of all MPs compared with 10 percent of the population).
Figure CP3.1 Members of Parliament identifying as Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian 1984–2008, and Māori, Pacific peoples or Asian share of the total population
Sources: Wilson and Anderson (2008); Statistics New Zealand, Estimated National Ethnic Population, 1996, 2001, 2006
Note: Ethnic group shares of the population for 2002 use 2001 ethnic population estimates; ethnic group shares for 2008 use 2006 ethnic population estimates.
The majority of Pacific MPs elected in 2008 were electorate MPs (60 percent) while the majority of Māori and Asian MPs were list MPs (55 percent and 83 percent respectively). Of the nine Māori electorate MPs, seven were elected to the Māori electorate seats.
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