Nearly 60 Māori are contesting general seats this election across all political parties with the majority from New Zealand First. However, political commentator Ngahuia Wade says there is still a need for the Māori seats.
New Zealand First has nearly twice the number of Māori general candidates than any other party.
New Zealand First MP Pita Paraone says, "This is the most New Zealand First has ever had. Māori candidates are just as good as non-Māori candidates and this is certainly reflected in our list for this year's election."
Of potentially 59 Māori candidates contesting the general seats, New Zealand First has 17, Labour and The Māori Party have nine, National eight, the Greens six, The Opportunities Party three, Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party two and the Conservatives have one. Four candidates were yet to respond to Te Kāea.
Political commentator and former press gallery reporter Ngahuia Wade says, "I am not surprised Winston has a lot of Māori. He wants to be considered a mainstream Māori in mainstream and that's fine but a lot of Māori don't."
In the 80s, the Royal Commission proposed abolishing the Māori electorates saying MMP would empower Maori. This election, one of New Zealand First's bottom-line calls is a binding referendum on the future of the Māori seats.
Wade says she’d be surprised if the referendum went ahead but Paraone says the question still needs to be asked.
"Without the Māori seats you do not have an effective Māori voice because you are seven seats down," Wade says.
"At the moment, we have what? 23 or 24 Māori in parliament but you take away seven [Māori seats] and that's only 15."
Te Kāea contacted the Electoral Commission for the number of Māori standing as general candidates for both the 2014 and 2017 elections but a spokesperson told Te Kāea it "did not have information on the ethnicity of candidates contesting general seats".
*Since this story aired the number of Māori contesting general seats increased and the article has been updated to reflect this.