The battle for the Pasifika vote

Bottom line is, nobody cares about the Pasifika vote, until it is time to vote.  And they know it.

Despite big Labour majorities in the top three Pasifika electorates, voting age participation in Mangere, Manukau East and Manurewa was down and among the lowest for all general electorates.

Labour MP for Kelston Carmel Sepuloni said it had been a problem for the past three elections and needed to be “seriously addressed” for 2017.

She said young, educated Pasifika who were born in New Zealand were the key to reversing that falling turnout and to the future of the Pasifika vote.

National Party list MP Alfred Ngaro said the challenge for all parties was to recognise Pasifika voters were no longer migrants.

Most are now “Kiwis of Pacific descent” who are younger, more educated and looking to do things differently from their parents.

“There is no more traditional vote. The vote has shifted and changed and if we’re not cognisant of that, then I think we’re gonna miss the mark,” said Mr Ngaro.

Alfred Ngaro believes younger, Pasifika New Zealanders will be attracted to National’s message that individuals can aspire to more for themselves and that cultural obligations to church and family need to change.

But Carmel Sepuloni said collective cultural values were not being abandoned in the push for higher education and better jobs.

“We’re encouraged to do that for wider family and community. But if the principle of collectivism dilutes the longer we are here, will there still be that alignment to the Labour Party? I’m not sure.”

What the hell did she say?  Collective cultural values and principles of collectivism dilutes?  I swear, I don’t understand Pasifika talk.  

Auckland University of Technology researcher, Leon Lusitini, said post-election surveys since 1996 showed Pasifika people did not think politics or voting made any difference to their daily lives.

Alongside a deep loyalty to Labour and former leaders like David Lange and Helen Clark, there was an equally deep belief that governments – whether National or Labour – did not care about Pasifika people.

“That kind of cynical attitude about Government does affect turnout. If people think that Government is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves then they’re probably not likely to turn out at all.”

Political commentator Efeso Collins said National’s aspirational pitch was the right one but would not change allegiances on its own.

Nor would it inspire young Pasifika to vote unless they were among the 4 or 5 percent who came out of the education system with a degree.

To get the Pasifika vote, you need to be putting in the hard yard for 3 years before the election, every election.  It is up to people like Alfred Ngaro to spend more time in his electorate than in Wellington.  He needs to build his support now, because he’s not going to get it in 2017.

And that is exactly what he’ll do.  Alfred may be a scum list MP, but he’s got his eye on a very special prize:  to knock over Labour’s dominance in South Auckland.

Sepuloni better get used to bleeding votes.




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  • Blue Tim

    Ngaro is a top chap who should be used more by the National Party

  • Cadwallader

    I would not expect Little Angry to have anything approaching an understanding of Pacifika matters. He’ll turn up at the odd manger sausage sizzle wearing a silly hat or the like but beyond that there’ll be no chemistry. The message from Mr Ngaro is in all likelihood nearer the truth but I suspect National have been as lazy with the Pacifika vote from time to time as Labour. Perhaps all parties may be better not to have a categorized vote under this label and simply dish up the poles as they would to any sector of society? Their may well not be a collective attitude amongst the Pacifika voters?

  • Nirvana10

    It’s time to ditch the term ‘Pasifika’, which is a leftie trendy Min of Ed term that has crept into common usage. It’s is an insult to define a person born in NZ who happens to have Tongan or Samoan heritage and has probably never set foot in a Pacific Island country by a term that no Tongan or Samoan would use to describe themselves. Alfred Ngaro is absolutely correct that young people of Pacific Island heritage are turning their backs on the negative aspects of Island obligations. We should be hearing more from Mr Ngaro who should be used a great deal more by the National Party to build bridges with Pacific Island communities and voters.

  • johnnyB

    Only when labour realises the extremely simple concept that to win an election you need to receive the greatest number of votes that are actually cast will they be a political threat again. They seem to spend a remarkable amount of time trying to win the support of people who don’t even bother voting. I would suggest 95% of effort should go into convincing more of the 70 odd % of voters who will vote next time to support them with some decent policy and 5% trying to get the no hopers.

    • Hard1

      Given the choice of making an earthquake or strengthening the country, the Left go for the earthquake every time. They are incapable of evolving in an ever-changing world. Socialism is dead. The choice now is Democratic Capitalism, Dictatorial Capitalism or Militarised Anarchy.
      Unfortunately the Left in NZ are stuck in Democratic Anarchy, which is only suitable as a recipe for internal power struggles, not governing.

  • Jane

    I believe collectivism refers to the Hofstede model of national culture. Collectivism has a natural opposite of Individualism which prevails in NZ. In short a collectivist culture such as many of the Pacific Islands value religion and extended family in contrast to individualist cultures where our values are for self and immediate family.

    I’m sure that young educated Pacific Islanders are becoming more individualist and therefore may value National more then the prior generation.

  • Sir Cullen’s Sidekick

    I am not at all convinced that Pasifika people will ever vote National. They are like Maori. Always vote Labour whether Labour does anything for them or not. So moving on….Alfie should concentrate on something else useful….

    • Nirvana10

      I wonder whether you actually mix with Pacific Island people. Your cynicism suggests not. Given that National already has several well-respected MPs of Pacific Island background indicates that there is indeed the potential to pick up greater support among 2nd and 3rd generation people of PI heritage.

  • peterwn

    Not all list MP’s are scum list MP’s. I know a guy who worked hard as a campaign manager, then spent three years doing high power fundraising and helping out in an electorate where the local committee needed leadership and a strong helping hand. Then he won a nomination and campaigned for the party vote over the candidate vote. The party awarded him a very respectable list position and now he is a list MP. He will be working hard as a ‘shadow’ MP for two or three electorates and will be campaigning for the party vote over the next three years. ‘Scum’ – I think not.

  • R&BAvenger

    “Alfred Ngaro believes younger, Pasifika New Zealanders will be attracted to National’s message that individuals can aspire to more for themselves and that cultural obligations to church and family need to change”
    One only has to look at the stunning success and example of Sol3 Mio to see that Pasifika can see there is a different way to progress in NZ and it isn’t by voting Labour.
    The Biography of Sol3 Mio is good reading too. From what I have read so far, their success came down initially at least to huge support from dedicated, hardworking parents and immediate family, plus their teachers/mentors. Plus, no handouts from the state by and large, but local and (eventually) nationwide concerts to raise funds for their musical studies in Wales.
    Check out their DVD. We watched the whole thing last night and it was well worth it.