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August 7, 2017 | by  | in News |
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MPs Attempt to Convince Pasifika People to Care About Them

The VUW Pasifika Students’ Council (PSC) hosted a Pasifika in Politics panel on August 2, focussing on the topic Why Should Pacific People Care?

More than 50 people attended the event, which saw the panel, made up of MPs and candidates from across the political spectrum, speak to issues affecting Pasifika youth.

PSC President Sina Ah Sam said that the inspiration for the event was learning about a surprisingly low Pasifika voter turnout. In 2014, according to a Ministry of Social Development report, 17.6 per cent of Pasifika people did not vote.

For New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin, this statistic could be explained by Pasifika people not having “the same equity for opportunity as Pākehā and Māori.”

The challenge for the panelists was to make a case to the students as to why they should care. Alfred Ngaro, Minister for Pacific Peoples, centred his focus on members of the community who are “young, brown and gifted.”

“There’s a browning of New Zealand […] by 2038, over 11 per cent of the population will be brown and Polynesian.”

Green Party candidate for Manurewa, Teanau Tuiono, was strict on his speaking topics, framing many of his initial answers solely around issues of climate change and poverty. He believed focusing on those issues which most affected Pasifika people was a way of “consciously supporting our home islands.”

Like Tuiono, deputy leader of The Opportunities Party, Geoff Simmons, was keen to stick to the topic of housing and his vast experience in the public sector.

“I’m not interested in left or right wing… just what works.”

As the debate swung towards the minimum wage, living wage, and improving Pasifika students’ rates of University Entrance, Labour MP Carmel Sepoluni urged students to fight for better opportunities, which was met with snaps of approval from the student audience.

“All of these politicians had their education paid for. Do you know who paid for that? Taxpayers, your parents, the ones working in the factories.”

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