Oct 14, 2011

Marae Digipoll

I've no time for polls that attempt to gauge the Maori electorate. Why? Well, because they tend to miss the mark. Think the Native Affairs/Baseline poll. That poll held that only one percentage point separated Hone and Kelvin in Tai Tokerau. In reality over nine percentage points separated the two. Shannon Taurua points out that the last two election year Marae Digipolls were predicting that the Maori Party would sweep all of the Maori seats. In reality the Maori Party won four seats in 05 and five in 08 – not all seven.

My instincts tell me the Marae Digipoll is wrong. The results are absolutely and utterly out of whack with what I have gauged over the past year. The Maori vote is fragmented and fluid at the moment, for sure, but I cannot accept, for example, that Kelvin is ahead of Hone in Tai Tokerau. That finding runs contrary to all I, and other Maori commentators, have observed.

As you can probably tell, I’m going to attack the poll in this post. Firstly, the poll was conducted via landline. 14.6% of workers in the primary sector do not have access to landlines. By my reckoning that figure will rise for Maori primary sector workers. Also 19.6% of 18 to 24 year olds do not have access to a landline phone. As you can imagine, this group will include a disproportionate number of Maori voters. For low income homes 12.5% do not own a landline and, again, I expect that figure to rise when considering poor Maori households only. With this in mind, a landline only poll is going to bypass a significant bloc of the Maori population. Maori, especially low-income Maori, are transient too. Often moving from rented home to rented home. As such, these Maori have never had access to a landline telephone and, if they do, they are extremely difficult to reach because they tend to avoid listing their numbers in the White Pages. The time calls are made will also affect who is reached. I figure a disproportionate number of Maori are shift workers and these workers will be missed because, from my experience and the pollsters call my family every time, the poll is conducted late afternoon early evening when shift workers are beginning their shift/still sleeping. Again, a large bloc is missed. The poll also worked from a low base, only 655 voters from the Maori role were surveyed, and the margin of error was quite high at 3.9% for voters on the Maori roll and a whopping 10.4% for electorate results. Another significant flaw is that not all the Mana electorate candidates had been announced when the poll was conducted. Furthermore, respondents were not given the names or respective parties of the candidates they could vote for.

These problems are difficult to correct, or some of them. It is too expensive to call cellphones (and get cellphone numbers in the first place) and it is doubly difficult to target a particular demographic (i.e. Maori) even under normal conditions. The poll could adjust for age, sex and income sampling error, but this was not done which, again, takes away from the validity of the results.

To be fair, the poll is not worthless. Polls are a snapshot at a particular moment in time. In this case the poll was conducted between July and September. A time when the Mana Movement was gaining traction, the Maori Party continuing to decline and Labour struggling to make headway. However, this is not reflected in the poll results.

Party vote:

  • Labour 38.4%
  • Maori Party 22.2%
  • National 16.4%
  • Mana 8.5%
  • Green 6.5%
  • NZ First 5.1%

A landline poll will tend to reach nine to five conservative Maori so it’s unsurprising to see a leaning towards Labour, National and, arguably, New Zealand First. Support for National is well overstated, having said that I expect the general support for National to flow onto Maori voters. Support for the Maori Party also seems overstated I, quite honestly, know of no more Maori Party supporters and know of only one and two by extension. Support for the Greens is also overstated, among Maori voters the Greens tend to do poorly on the day (under 5%). Labour and Mana should expect to poll better. Mana will ride the momentum, albeit slowing momentum, they are building and Labour can expect to bring in more votes out of Maori habits and the “two ticks” work of MPs like Parekura Horomia, Nanaia Mahuta and Rino Tirikatene. 

Te Tai Tokerau:
  • Labour 30.2%
  • Mana 28.6%
  • Maori 22.2%
This cannot be correct. This result runs contrary to everything I have perceived. I know others feel the same (even commentators from the right like David Farrar). Hone is an unmovable object in Te Tai Tokerau. Kelvin has done nothing to justify such a high result nor has Hone done anything that would turn the tides against him. This result is a rogue. Hone will win by over 10%. If he doesn’t, well, then I’ll renounce my reputation as a decent Maori political commentator and probably never wirte again out of embarrassment.  

Tamaki Makaurau:
  • Maori 46.1%
  • Labour 30.4%
  • Mana 15.7%
This result appears more accurate. I think Mana’s support will drop with the announcement of Kereama Pene as the party’s candidate. This drop in support will, naturally I think, flow back to Pita Sharples. I expect Shane to rise as the campaign heats up and he goes head to head with Pita. Pita has already experienced a reflex backlash and I doubt Shane has the ability to exacerbate that backlash in a significant way. 

  • Maori 59.3%
  • Mana 18.7%
  • Labour 8.8%
If the pollsters had put forward Annette Sykes name I expect that the result for Mana would be much higher. Annette enjoys huge support in the Eastern Bay, for example the Ruatoki Valley where landlines are near non-existent, moderate support in Te Arawa and a few strong factions of support in the Western Bay. Te Ururoa has no functional branches left and can only rely on his whanaunga in Te Arawa and possibly Tuwharetoa, but I tend to think Tuwharetoa, who are staunch in the Tuhoe sense, will back Annette. Labour’s candidate, Louis Te Kani, will do well in his native Tauranga, but will struggle in Tuwharetoa and the Eastern Bay.     

Te Tai Tonga:
  • Labour 41.4%%
  • Maori 34.5%
  • Mana 3.4%
This sounds about right. Expect Rahui Katene to snatch Christchurch, but lose Wellington and the rest of the South. This will be a close battle, but I expect Rino Tirikatene to prevail.  

  • Labour 58.8%%
  • Maori 12.9%
  • Mana 17.6%
Nanaia is safe – no doubt about that. Expect to see Angeline Greensil poll much higher than 17.6%. However, Nanaia is not threatened. Voters will consider her good form as their MP over the past decade and her extensive whakapapa connections. Angeline brings some much needed theatre and fire to the race, but her brand of tino rangatiratanga is more attractive in places like Tuhoe, Nga Puhi and the East Coast as opposed to Tainui. 

Te Tai Hauauru:
  • Labour 40.3%%
  • Maori 48.6%%
  • Mana 1.4%
Well out of whack with feeling on the ground. Tariana is well ahead. The Labour candidate, Soraya Peke-Mason is well connected in the Ratana Church, and the Church is very influential in Te Tai Hauauru, but so too is Tariana. Tariana can stand on her form over the past decade as well and her mana as a Maori leader and leader of the Maori Party.  

Ikaroa Rawhiti:
  • Labour 40.5%%
  • Maori 31.6%
  • NZ First 10.1%
  • Mana 8.9%
Parekura is safe too. His style of campaigning is old, but effective – wildly effective. I’m not even joking when I say Parekura knows almost all of his voters by name. This sort of closeness to his constituents does not go unnoticed. Parekura is an institution, much like Hone, even his opponents refuse to bag him. As a former Minister of Maori Affairs and dedicated electorate MP Parekura has the record and the mana to carry him through this election. The Maori Party candidate is strong, but I doubt he is strong enough to come within 10% of Parekura. Expect Mana’s Tawhai McClutchie to dig into the Maori Party vote as well.

I’m not going to bother with the other results. Most are rogues, in my opinion at least, and I don’t have time to continue with this post. Again, if you are curious for my thoughts just flick me an email and I’ll get back to you in good time. My email address is at the bottom of the page.

For the full results see this over at Curiablog.


  1. excellent post. however, do you think that the demographic that has a landline is also the demographic most likely to get out to the ballot box?

  2. Marae digipolls have always been suspect. They are run by the right wing highly paid iwi elite types. Maori TV is pretty right wing too. For example why does the BBC broadcasts on Maori TV before the programmes start in the morning?

    Polls are very dangerous because they seek to influence voters i.e. few people want to back a loser or perceived losers and most people want to back winners or perceived winners; on the other hand people balk at 'throwing their vote away' if a poll shows a large gap. I'm sure lots of people are starting to make decisions based on the 'latest poll'. But problems arise if the poll was unscientific or suspect because the same people will still make decisions based on suspect polls believing them to be true.

    I'm aware more research needs to be done on poll psychology. Still I think the MSM has another powerful tool to use to control the behavious of the masses.

  3. The marae digipoll is self-serving. The programme itself appeals to the iwi elite-type.

  4. Maori are ditching the need for a landline in favour of mobile phones. Indeed research a report on 'Current and future broadcasting and e-media Preferences of Maori youth
    Qualitative Research' supports this. The cost/benefits and convenience don't add up for many Maori - and perhaps non Maori - to justify having a landline.

    I think two things will send two contrasting Maori demographics to the polls if not this election then the next: 1. Misguided pursuit of more wealth and maintaining the status quo of the Maori haves and, 2. Premonitions or a realisation of extreme poverty for the Maori have nots. I think austerity measures may benefit Maori in the long run i.e. less social funding, cutting the benefit, more police, more prisons. It will bring about protests and send young Maori to the polls.

    As you know, there's a revolution going on in Europe and America. Once upon a time the middle class were happy to sit in their little bubble of security, content that the government would take care of them while smiling at the predicament of the have nots. But as the 1% demanded more riches, this has to come from somewhere and the middle class are now it because the lower class have become the proverbial blood from a stone. They are reacting because poverty threatens. When young Maori wake up and realise just how self-serving the Western political aparatus and instruments have been since their inception we will probably see protests and anger or revolution not too dissimilar to those going on elsewhere. It was protest and anger that gave rise to the Maori Party popularity. After the election expect the shit to hit the fan.

    The government is going to need even more convenient diversions. With their propensity for doing shit under the table with real terrorists organisations we really should expect the unexpected.

  5. A year later and the conclusion the Marae-DigiPoll and the Herald-DigiPoll were very close... or were the elections rigged?



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