Mike Hosking

Hosking's Māori electoral roll blunder should cost him debate role


As social media erupted into fauxrage over Mike Hosking's appointment as TVNZ's Leaders' Debate moderator I - correctly - pointed out that whatever his supposed biases were, Hosking had been able to set them aside in 2014 and do a good job as debate moderator. I compared it to Fox News' Chris Wallace who hosted a Presidential debate and, like Hosking, set aside any biases and was the best debate moderator of the Presidential election season.

Then on Wednesday night Mike Hosking did something that should rule him out of hosting the debates. He conveyed what appeared to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how New Zealand's electoral system works by implying - quite clearly - that only those on the Māori Electorate Roll could vote for the Māori Party. Hosking's exact words were "the fact that you can't vote for the Māori Party, because you're not enrolled in the Maori electorates?"

Then on Thursday night Hosking doubled down. In a bumbling attempt to explain himself, he attempted to blame the Māori Party themselves for the misunderstanding.

I think Hosking probably does have a decent grasp of our electoral system, and while I wouldn't expect him to be able to explain the inning workers of the Sainte-Laguë Formula, I do expect him to be able to adequately explain the basics of our electoral system if he's going to run our debates.

The blunder on Wednesday night wasn't great, but the way Hosking doubled down on it on Thursday night wasn't acceptable. Every party vote counts, whether it's cast in a Māori electorate or a General electorate, and Hosking's comments downplaying the importance of that given his role in moderating the debates, is unacceptable.