Teleiai Edwin Puni

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.

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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.”     Read more »

Pasifika community tiring of Labour’s nonsense too

The Pasifika community is breaking ranks with Labour after years of paternalistic attitudes and the “we know best” attitude of the Labour party.

People are now prepared to stand up and state that they can see a better, more aspirational way forward.

Michael Field takes a break from interviewing his keyboard on matters about Fiji to detail the ‘outrage’ over some Pasifika leaders daring to think for themselves instead of what Labour tells them what to think.

A small group of influential Pacific Island clergy have sparked fierce debate in South Auckland after they declared they would switch their support from the traditional Labour Party to the National Party.

The action, taken at the Manurewa flea market on Sunday, is under fire on Pacific Island social media.

The ministers involved have been criticised for not consulting their parishes.

The move has also sparked another meeting next Sunday when, under the auspices of a Samoan Catholic Church, 23 churches will meet to discuss political parties and Christian values.

The South Auckland electorates are traditionally Labour thanks in large part to church-going Pacific Islanders.   Read more »