Prime Minister John Key spoke to more than 500 members of
South Auckland's Pasifika community today in an attempt to
sway votes from the Labour stronghold.
The meeting, with Pacific church leaders at the Samoan
Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mangere, was also
a platform to promote National's candidate for Mangere, Misa
However, even National's Pacific Island Affairs Minister and
Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga admitted that unseating
incumbent Mangere MP, Labour's Su'a William Sio, would be a
"I wouldn't get overly optimistic about it," Mr Lotu-Iiga
Ms Turner had worked hard in the local community, however the
meeting's primary aim was to shore up the party vote for
National, he said.
Mr Lotu-Iiga said he grew up in the Mangere community and was
once too a Labour voter, but he had been seeing a shift in
support towards National. "Things are changing around here."
Also at the meeting was Manukau city church group member Del
Kumandan, who said he too had seen National's support grow in
"The tide's definitely turning…the people are identifying
with what National is doing for them."
However, not all were as convinced.
Robert Ramsay said he had previously been a Labour voter, but
had become disillusioned with the political process and
wasn't planning on voting in November's general election.
"I used to be a hard-core Labour voter but then I just
stopped voting...I'm just not really interested in politics
Christina Pauu-Tonuga said National was still seen as
promoting a "rich man's world".
"There's still a lot of poverty and I don't see much change
Yet Prime Minister John Key said there had been a shift in
support in the Labour stronghold of South Auckland.
"We've been saying for quite some time that we see a shift in
the Pacific voting patterns.
"I can't think of a time when I've been the leader of the
National Party when we would have had so many people in
Mangere turn up for a National Party meeting .
"I think it just sends a very strong message that there are
changes afoot in voting patterns for Pacific New Zealanders.
"Our big job now is to make sure that come the polling day
they do turn up and they do cast their party vote for
The Pacific community had been identifying with National
Party values more after coming to New Zealand and originally
finding work in low-skilled, unionised jobs dominated by the
Labour movement, Mr Key said.
"We're still very much the underdog with Pacific voters and
also, in South Auckland, but I think we are going to do
better in this election then we've done in the past."
- by Brendan Manning