17 Former Māori Affairs Committee Room
View of the former Māori Affairs Committee Room. The room contains portraits of significant Māori members of Parliament and a large reproduction of the Treaty of Waitangi.
Māori representation in Parliament
During the 1850s and 1860s, Māori pressed for political representation. Parliament agreed that some representation was needed but feared that Māori votes might outnumber Pākehā (European) votes in some areas. It therefore created four separate Māori seats in 1868.
Important Māori leaders have represented their people in the House. They have included Maui Pomare, James Carroll, Matiu Rata, and (most famously) Apirana Ngata.
For many years, these and other men (they were all men until 1949, when Iriaka Ratana was elected) were lonely voices in a Pākehā-dominated House. Only quite recently have Māori represented electorates outside the Māori seats (apart from Carroll). Since the 1980s, Māori have entered Parliament in greater numbers. The mixed-member proportional representation (MMP) system introduced in 1996 has boosted Māori representation even more.