Think New Zealand’s pretty great? Of course you do—but it might be better than you think (NZ is third from the left, above).

You may have heard recently (because our democracy is under attack) that we’re one of the world’s oldest continuous democracies, and that’s perfectly true.

You might not know that we’re third on that list, so New Zealand is third oldest, which is darn good. But it gets better, because in 1893 (129 years ago) we became the first nation in the world to let women and men OF ALL RACES vote. Maoris already had the vote. They could register and vote in all electorates in which they owned property, same as other men, but in 1893 they were limited to one vote, like everyone else.

Strange to think that New Zealand was settled quite recently. Abel Tasman found us in 1642, only about 300 years after the Polynesians had arrived in NZ, according to Wikipedia. Then Cook arrived 120 years later in 1769 and publicity over that brought a flood of whalers, sealers and traders from Europe and North America. Not to mention a century of immigration from Britain.

If the activists succeed in diluting the power of non-Maori votes in local elections, the expansion of Maori power will quickly extend to national elections. Their ambition has been clearly expressed. And our proud standing on the table of democratic nations will end.

With the Government now furiously back-pedalling on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill that increases Māori voting power, the threat has receded. But there remains the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Bill, which similarly boosts the power of Maori votes and threatens democracy.

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