Māori participation and representation : an investigation into Māori reported experiences of participation and representation within the policy process post-MMP.
Thesis DisciplinePolitical Science
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis seeks to understand Māori experiences of representation and participation in the policy process of New Zealand Government. The introduction of an MMP electoral system came with a promise of more effective representation for Māori. This study aims to investigate whether Māori who have participated in the public policy process feel their participation has been effective and whether the policy process is consistently open to Māori across different fields and stages of the policy process. This thesis will apply the social movement theory of Kitschelt (1986) to analyze Māori participation within the policy process. This western framework will be implemented under the Kaupapa Māori practices of being guided by advisors and participants, in order to conduct research that is both useful and beneficial to Te Ao Māori. Focusing on two case studies of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and Whānau Ora this thesis reports on the experiences and perceptions of 29 interviews with Māori policy makers, advocates and community leaders. These key interviews were supplemented with complementary discussions and secondary literature to understand the experiences of Māori participating in the public policy process. This thesis aims to identify possible improvements that could be made to the policy processes to achieve the goals of Māori participation and representation which are necessary to uphold the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi. The results of this research suggest that the change in electoral system brought about very limited changes for Māori participation and representation. It was hypothesized that differing policy fields would have different degrees of openness; however, what was found was that both case study policy fields remained closed, identifying the government’s ability to close input structures as the greatest barrier to Māori participation and representation. The findings of this research offer an understanding of the policy process as perceived and experienced by Māori. These findings provide suggestions for improving the policy process to enable more effective Māori participation and representation to shape policy early on. It is argued that greater attention to reforming opportunities for input will reduce the need for costly and exhausting confrontation and help New Zealand begin to create policies that move our society towards that nation which the Treaty of Waitangi envisioned.
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