Has Labour lost South Auckland?

Yesterday I wrote about the condescension of David Cunliffe when speaking to Pasifika audiences.

Today in the NZ Herald they discuss how Pasifika have found their political voice and no longer just vote red.

Could this mean that Labour’s fortress of South Auckland has broken walls now?

For a long time – generations, even – the Pasifika vote has always gone to the party draped in red.

In the old days, vans and buses were organised all around South Auckland to make sure as many people as possible turned up to the voting booths. The majority of those Tongan, Samoan, Niuean, Fijian, Cook Island and Tuvaluan voters were completely decked out in red, holding red balloons and wearing red lei.

These days, however, something is changing within the community.

Although there is still a very strong Labour following, there is now growing support for National, as well as a shift to vote for other parties – something almost never heard of before amongst Pasifika.

Community leaders and seasoned politicians admit that people are starting to look at what other parties are offering; meaning the Pacific vote is starting to look a lot more colourful this election.

Over the past few months, the National party has gone in strong into places that have traditionally been Labour’s stronghold and, in earlier years, would have seen anyone in blue practically booted out.

A drive down East Tamaki Road and through Otara confirms this. There are more signs for parties other than Labour than for Labour. And plenty of National signs are around too.

Local Pacific leader Teleiai Edwin Puni said members of the community were now more aware about how their vote could heavily influence the outcome of an election.

Those aged 65 and over were acknowledging the benefits they would get if they gave their vote to Winston Peters’ party NZ First.

People still upset about Labour’s gay marriage bill were considering giving their votes to the Conservatives and those with more radical views were now thinking of giving Internet Mana or the Greens the tick.

People also have a greater understanding of the Mixed Member Proportional voting system, Mr Puni said.

“Labour used to get both [candidate and party] votes. But now people are mixing it up. For example, people in Mangere might want to give their vote to Su’a William Sio, but their party votes are going to be given to someone else.

“That broad view will bring about a certain trend that’s happening now – and that is, the way that our Pacific vote was in the past is slowly changing. It’s not just to one party, but now it’s quite split. That shows the different views our Pacific people hold and now they’re participating in that sense.”

The fact that more Pacific Islanders are entering politics has also led to dramatic change, with many people moving to support their own. Although the majority of those candidates are turning out for Labour, Pasifika names can also be found on lists for National, NZ First, the Conservatives, Mana and the Greens.

The party vote decision is where Labour may well lose South Auckland. It is their bastion, the fortress and if party votes drop significantly then no amount of free KFC on election day is going to budge that.

On top of that Early Voting is popular…people are voting and then shutting their ears, the last two weeks of this campaign is about talking to a diminishing audience.

I don;t think early voting is the panacea fools like Martyn Martin Bradbury think it is.


– NZ Herald


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