NZ’s Labour Party needs to ‘reach back into Pacific community’, says panel


Tagata Pasifika’s first election talanoa … Labour must engage Pacific voters. Video: Tagata Pasifika

Tagata Pasifika has kicked off its election talanoa series with a panel discussion weighing-in on Jacinda Ardern’s recent appointment to leader of the Labour Party.

The panel welcomed Ardern’s abrupt rise from deputy leader to leader following Andrew Little’s resignation on August 1, continuing the media’s positive coverage.

Manukau Ward councillor Fa’anana Efeso Collins said Ardern was the “silver bullet” New Zealand had been looking for.

“I think Jacinda’s going to make a huge difference to this election,” he said.

Despite only being six weeks out from elections, Innes Logan, SPASIFIK magazine editor and publisher, said Labour had made the right decision.

“I think it’s quite a smart move timing wise.”

CEO of Leadership New Zealand, Sina Wendt Moore, told host Seinafolava Sanele Chadwick Ardern’s leadership was important for Pasifika women.

“This change is really positive for Labour,” she said.

Engage Pacific community
However, Fa’anana, Logan and Moore warned it was important for Labour to continue to engage with the Pacific community and retain its strong voting base.

Moore said Ardern subsequently needs to ensure her empathetic, warm and approachable leadership style extended to the Pacific community.

“She connects well with people, so if she goes out and does that across the community, including our women, then I think it’s going to work for Labour.”

Both Fa’anana and Logan agreed it was essential Labour address the “cut through” issues facing the Pacific community, such as housing, in order to retain its strong voting base.

“It’s now time to deal to some of these issues that we’re facing. If Jacinda can lead with these messages, I think we’re going to see a really good turnout, especially in South Auckland,” Fa’anana said.

Logan added the Pasifika community would continue to engage in politics despite media reports to the contrary.

“I’ve got no doubt voter turnout will be even more for this election.”

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