This is what happens when you take voters for granted

Labour has traditionally owned the Pasifika vote, especially in South Auckland, which has been a fortress for Labour.

It saved them in 2005 when the infamous KFC remark was made by Mike Williams about how he turned out South Auckland to save Helen Clark’s government.

But Labour are a party of condescension and voter exploitation.

For so long they have taken those votes for granted that they never actually delivered anything other than continued poverty and welfare traps for voters. After nine years of a Labour government these people were still living in the same crappy neighbourhood, with the same crappy neighbours, their kids going to the same crappy schools. Nothing had changed despite generations supporting Labour.

Labour for their part selected corrupt or dodgy representatives, ranked them low on the list, created a ghettoisation of politics especially for Pasifika and rocked up and recited all the greetings like they meant something other than votes to them.

Now though, after 6 years of a National government with ministers and representatives like Peseta Sam Lotu-iiga and Alfred Ngaro they are seeing that a focus on education and respect of ability rather than race or tokenism pays off.

They have seen 300 more police in their neighbourhoods and the incidence of crime dropping and they are seeing a focus on schooling and training for their people as a way out of poverty. Their eyes are open to alternate realities outside of poverty and welfare.

Have a drive through Otara, I do every day, and witness the changes from just 10 years ago. Maori have largely moved further south, to places like Clendon Park, and Pasifika have moved in and taken over. Former state houses are now kept in immaculate condition, lawns are mowed, and a quiet respect has developed.

Little wonder then that Pasifika are gravitating to a party that gives hope and rewards hard work and enterprise.

The Pacific vote is traditionally Labour’s, but socially liberal policies like same-sex marriage, driven by Labour, have created a drift.

The Prime Minister is pouncing and believes National is set to secure more Pacific and south Auckland votes in this election than in the past.

Many turned out to see John Key in Mangere, offering hugs, kisses and photos. They even managed to roll out a gold carpet, but there was no red there.

“I can’t think of a time where I have been a leader of the National Party where we would have so many people in Mangere turn up for a National Party meeting,” says Mr Key. “If you close your eyes you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a Labour Party meeting, over 500 people in there.” ? ?

The traditionally Labour Pacific vote is changing, as staunch red voters are now turning blue.

“The vote is turning in south Auckland from Labour to National, that is what is happening,” says Mangere community leader Teleiai Edwin Puni. “I can tell you that; I am voting National.”

Gay marriage is considered to be one of the main reasons for the change.

“The values, that’s important to us because that’s really against our moral values ,” says National candidate Misa-Fia Turner.

Ms Turner was born in Samoa, but she now calls Mangere home. She and her family were always Labour supporters, but this year she is standing for National.

David Cunliffe’s response is pure condescension.

But Labour leader David Cunliffe insists he is still living the Pacific dream.

“We have had a wonderful day here in Manurewa,” he says.

He says the turnout at his meeting in south Auckland last night proves that.

“It’s great. We are having an amazing turn out, record numbers.”

Yeah, you have the numbers, but they are waning and those small numbers that cross the centre divide won’t come back when they are respected and valued.

Labour always claims record numbers when the reality is record lows.