Jacinda Ardern has a diverse caucus that includes a large number of Maori and women MPs, such as Nanaia Mahuta. Photos / Files
The new Labor caucus is far more representative of contemporary New Zealand than the National, says a Massey University sociologist.
Professor Paul Spoonley said there was a stark difference between the Labor and Green and National and Acting Parties on diversity.
More than half of the 64 MPs from the Labor Party are women, have 15 Maori MPs, one in six are Pasifika and have a good ethnic mix.
The Greens’ 10th Caucus consists of three Maori MPs, seven women, Iranian refugee Golriz Ghaharaman and Latin American Ricardo Menendez.
National has only two Maori MPs – Simon Bridges and Shane Reti – in a 35-member caucus, one Asian MP in Melissa Lee and 11 women. Otherwise, it is mostly European men. This party does not have Pasifika MPs.
National did, however, lose some diversity in its ranks with MPs Kanwalijt Singh Bakshi, Parmjeet Parmar, Alfred Ngaro and Harete Hipango losing their seats.
The 10-member caucus in Act has three Maori lawmakers – David Seymour, Nicole McKee and Karen Chhour – and four women – Brooke van Velden, McKee, Chhour and Toni Severin.
Spoonley, an expert on changing the face of New Zealand society, said national leader Judith Collins made it clear from the start that ethnic and cultural differences were not important to the party in this election.
He said 27 percent of New Zealanders were migrants, and 50 percent were migrants or migrant children.
Since 2013, Spoonley said New Zealand has experienced the highest net migration rates and gained 330,000 people. The two largest groups came from China and India. In the next decade “one if five of us may be Asian”.
Spoonley said Labor’s caucuses reflect the diversity of contemporary New Zealand – on one condition.
“Maybe it could be better in terms of the Chinese and Indian communities – two very large communities,” he said.
With Raymond Huo’s resignation, the Labor Party has only one member of the Chinese parliament with Naisi Chen, two members of the Indian parliament – Priyanca Radhakrishnan and Gaurav Sharma – and Sri Lankan MP Vanushi Walters.
Other ethnic MPs in the Labor caucus include Eritrean refugees Ibrahim Omer and Ayesha Verrall who have Maldivian ties.
Spoonley said it would be interesting to vote to see how large ethnic communities, such as Chinese and Indians, voted and whether they blocked the vote.
The Election Commission estimates the turnout at 82.5 percent, the highest turnout since 1999 if confirmed.
As of Sunday morning, nearly 2.4 million votes in New Zealand’s general election had been counted.
The Labor Party has 49.1 percent of the vote and the National 26.8 percent. The Greens have 7.6 percent of the vote, while the Law has 8 percent. New Zealand First is well below the threshold, at 2.7 percent.
About 480,000 special declaration votes were still counted – representing around 17 percent of the total votes.
Nearly 70 percent of the votes were cast in advance – up from 47 percent in 2017.
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