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August 12, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Multiculturalism: Rabeea Inayahtullah is Running for Council

Rabeea Inayatullah: Porirua City Council Northern Ward
There’s no doubt Rabeea is passionate about her home city. Throughout her interview with us, she consistently brought up the importance of Porirua and its people, and how they created the person she is today. From her parents and grandparents, to her schoolmates, to her Islamic faith.

Her passion was supported by clear values and priorities, of which compassion, active representation and engagement, and multiculturalism were the most prominent.

Unfortunately, Rabeea was light on specific policy details in a number of areas we asked about. But this isn’t entirely her own fault, as we interviewed her earliest, well before any sort of formal campaign launch. So if you think she sounds a bit light, check out her campaign page in the box at the end of the article.

In the meantime, have a gander at her thoughts below.

Representation: Youth, Māori, and Multiculturalism
It was apparent that representation and engagement with marginalised groups in the city is a key part of Rabeea’s platform. She made it a feature of her one-minute pitch, saying youth representation is “critically low” in the city, with 40% of the population younger than 25 but with no such councillors.

Her enthusiasm for representation also extends to multicultural representation, promoting herself as both a voice for Asians and immigrants in the city, which she considers is lacking at the moment. This is backed up by her experience as a Porirua Multicultural Council representative. Her time spent on the PMC, and as a member of the Paremata Residents Association, impressed upon her the importance of city council representation in community groups.

She recalled Mayor Mike Tana’s role as a council rep on the PMC as one of the most effective methods for issues to be relayed to council and then resolved. Having councillors at the residents association’s meetings had similar effects.

Not only would Rabeea be committed to this kind of council representation, she’s also keen to maintain and even expand it. She already has ties to the PMC, but she called specifically for a council representative on the Ngāti Toa executive. Her hope would be to build the existing relationship, as well as facilitate discussions between the iwi and the council.

Rabeea’s calls for developing these “key partnerships” came up as a key part of a lot of her policies, especially with mental health, climate change, and community-building.

Mental Health
Rabeea thinks Porirua City Council (PCC) is “doing a pretty good job” with mental health in the city, especially following the establishment of the youth mental health pilot.

However, she thinks there’s definitely more to be done, “I’m not necessarily happy [with the status quo…] there’s areas for improvement.”

One area brought up in the interview was around loneliness and isolation within communities. A key solution for Rabeea was encouraging community events like markets, food truck enterprises, and other small local initiatives. “Local events help a lot in the smaller suburbs, because you’re recognising your neighbour,” she said.

A central part of this is the council’s facilitation of these events and “reaching out” to communities in general. When asked about possible apprehension for council events from Porirua residents, Rabeea was clear on the responsibilities of councilors—“actually reaching out. Because if you want to be on council and you want to prove yourself to people, you just have to go there… I don’t think there’s any way to work around that.”

On mental health more generally, she is enthusiastic about the possibilities of collaborative work from councillors; “If council works together and we’re genuine and want to make a change, we actually have leaders that care about the city and its people, then having those people on council come together […] I think we can achieve a lot.”

Housing and Living Costs
Rabeea was more than clear on her key policy to improve the lives of those less well-off in the city—before Peter could finish his question on living costs, she had answered, “living wage, definitely.”

Porirua City Council has already announced its intention to make itself a living wage council by—and this is important—Rabeea’s birthday next year. And again, while Rabeea sees this as a good start, she wants to make sure it’s rolled out as far as possible. She wants to make sure all those working for council, including contractors and other indirect employees, are paid a living wage.

However, she’s not averse to pushing the campaign beyond just council. The first step, to Rabeea, is straightforward but she believes effective; “actually using our voices makes a huge difference. Really pushing and urging council to address these things.” She cited the work of two Aotea College students who campaigned, successfully, for the PCC to declare a climate emergency to illustrate.

On housing, specifically, Rabeea was also happy with the start the council has made on its two new housing developments. However, she expressed concern about the existing infrastructure, about whether it could handle the development itself and the increased number of houses at the end. After a Paremata Residents Association meeting, she doesn’t think this is being addressed enough and would push for it on council.

Climate Change
Like most people who aren’t boomers, Rabeea is keenly aware of the threat of climate change. “Our generation is going to be dealing with the reality of climate change and our kids are as well,” she said.

And while she acknowledges she hasn’t “delved too deep” into a number of the policies available, she thinks the current strategy is a “good first step”. That current direction, which has a focus on consultation, fits naturally with her broader platforms.

She also sees the role of central government as essential to climate action. She believed the central government was doing a decent job on the issue, and wants councils to make sure they’re following up on it. “If they can do it at a national level, then we should do it at a local level.”

The Campaign
Rabeea is not running on a party ticket, instead she’s running a “low-cost” campaign with the support of a network of friends and family. Although not her favourite past time, she says she’s “pretty good at budgeting”, so she should be able to pull it off.

She also acknowledged the work of the Take Back the City campaign, all the young people supporting her, support from her old schools—and, of course, her four sisters, who “don’t have a choice”.

To The Haters
Rabeea’s plan if she doesn’t win was also expected, “holding them accountable, [and] working with them”. She plans to continue her work on the PMC and residents association, as well as her mentoring at the Islamic Centre.

But, like her competition Josh Trlin, she says “if one of us gets on, that’s a win for all of us.”

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