As we head into the election tomorrow there are good credentials being presented by all the major parties as reasons to vote for them. For 'undecideds' the final determinations likely will represent a calculation on which party has the least set of reasons for not voting for them. One calculation which may or may not enter Pakeha heads is that we can choose to vote for the Maori Party with our 'party vote'.* For Anglican Christians it is worth remembering some special reasons why we might consider this option: the way we govern our own church reflects a strong commitment to partnership based on the Treaty of Waitangi: a vote for the Maori Party is an expression of that commitment in order to be not only a church but a nation working out a Treaty-based partnership between Maori and Pakeha; it is an expression of a commitment to Maori working out solutions for Maori problems in the development of society; and it is a vote of confidence in Maori leadership better understanding Maori life than Pakeha leadership.
The last three years have proven that the Maori Party is committed to work for Maori whatever the nature of the majority governing party. In parliamentary terms, the Maori Party is a proven 'centre' party, willing to work with the majority vote of the people, while offering a constraint and an alternative influence on the policies of the majority governing party. It is not the only proven 'centre' party - there is also United Future. We might also note that the Green Party seems to be incrementally evolving to becoming a true 'centre' party. But the Green Party is not there yet, and United Future's future hangs by a thread as it depends absolutely on Peter Dunne winning his electorate seat once again. Arguably, the one centre party worth voting for if one wants one's vote to lead to actual representation in the house is the Maori Party.
*For readers unfamiliar with NZ's current voting system, we get two votes, one for a person to represent our electorate and one for the party of our choice. The latter votes, added up, yield the proportion of the whole membership of parliament which that party is entitled to. For the purposes of electorate voting a citizen may enrol on the General Roll or the Maori Roll. Non-Maori may enrol on the Maori Roll. No one may be enrolled on both rolls.