Maori Party announces six Pasifika candidates

Tukoroirangi Morgan. Photo NZ Herald
Maori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan. Photo NZ Herald

The Maori Party officially has some Pasifika backing, with the announcement that six candidates of Pacific descent will run in the upcoming general election.

The candidates were formally revealed tonight at an event at one of the Pacific community's most prominent gathering places, at the Malaeola Community Centre in Mangere.

They come from a range of Pacific backgrounds and bring different life experiences to the table.

Former Samoan Rugby Union chief executive Tuilagi Saipele Esera has been announced as the candidate to run in Manukau East, where Labour MP Jenny Salesa currently stands and which has long been strong Labour territory.

Youth advocate John Kiria, of the Cook Islands, will run for the Mt Roskill electorate, while Manase Lua, who has done a lot of work in the Pacific disability sector, will run in Maungakiekie.

Other candidates are Cook Islanders Karen Williams, for New Lynn, and Maryanne Marsters, who has been chosen as the Maori Party's candidate for the place in which she grew up: Napier.

Samoan candidate Tofilau Esther Tofilau-Tevaga will run in Mangere, where another strong Labour MP, Aupito Su'a William Sio, currently stands.

Maori Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan told the New Zealand Herald the Pacific community in New Zealand had benefited from moves the party had made over the years and that this was another step up.

"The Maori Party has already proved that we care about Pacific peoples. We got them their own Whanau Ora commissioning agency and thousands of trade training places.

"And we will continue to advocate for many of the gains they have asked us for - 500 plus Fanau Ora navigators, amnesty for Pacific overstayers, a social, economic and cultural facility in Auckland and a Pacific sporting agency, just to name a few.''

The introduction of the Pasifika candidates comes after the Maori Party announced late last month it had entered a kawenata - or an agreement - with political party One Pacific.

The covenant stated a number of terms, including that One Pacific would submit up to nine nominees to be considered as general seat candidates for the Maori Party in this year's general election.

Both parties recognised the ancestral links between Maori and Pacific peoples; the covenant reading: "The leadership of the Maori Party and One Pacific acknowledge their common ancestral origins and shared aspirations for whanau and aiga (family) of the Pacific living in Aotearoa".

Mr Morgan acknowledged the long-held links between the Pacific community in New Zealand and the Labour Party, but said that those ties were now being taken for granted.

Welcoming Pacific candidates to the Maori Party whanau was about maintaining a relationship that would last not just for this generation, but for the next, he said.

"Labour has taken the Pacific people for granted for too long and we want our cousins to know they're welcome in our whare every year - not just in election year,'' he said.

"What has happened here is the beginning of an enduring and long-term relationship, because we think in generations.''

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