Māori males owning or renting property of sufficient value were theoretically entitled to vote in the first New Zealand general election in 1853. However, as this campaign poster for the Wellington election implies, very few Māori actually voted in this period – mainly because most Māori land was communally owned. This situation, democratic in principle but undemocratic in reality, led to the introduction of parliamentary seats reserved for Māori, once the settler Parliament took over responsibility for native affairs from the governor.
Using this item
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.