June 23, 2019
Getting out Māori vote biggest barrier to mayoralty hopes
A candidate for Gisborne's mayoralty says getting Māori out to vote is critical for her campaign.
Meredith Akuhata-Brown is vying for the position against deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz and domestic violence and suicide prevention activist Johnathan Pere, a newcomer to local body politics.
Current mayor Meng Foon is retiring after 18 years in the role, opening the way for the region's first female mayor and possibly its first Māori mayor.
Ms Akuhata-Brown says if Māori want change, they need to take part in the democratic process.
Voter turnout in Gisborne last election was 48 percent, but for Māori it was a lot lower.
"We only have 21 percent of our population vote and they are a conservative voter, they generally will vote for a Pākehā. It's a lot harder for us who are of iwi Māori descent to get people to vote for us because our people don't vote, so my work in this campaign is to raise the profile of voting, participating, having your say, but I want the governance table to be accessible to all," Ms Akuhata-Brown says.
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