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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.