On The Nation this morning they reported that there is a real split in the Pacific Island vote in Mana, which has traditionally been very strong Labour. They interviewed Liz Tanielu the head of the Teaaomanino Trust which is the biggest pacific island service provider in the region. She says she traditionally votes Labour but that Faafoi is an outsider, and she is angry they could not find a single local to stand, while Hekia has been active for some years in the electorate and “walks the talk”, and that the by-election should not be a party vote but a vote on who will be the best MP.
Then they had on Api Malu, who was representing 40 pacific island church ministers. He says they are looking for people who have worked with them, and that Hekia Parata has impressed a lot of people, and the leadership with what she has done.
Also on the show, Tariana Turia endorsed both Hekia Parata and Matt McCarten as candidates who would make effective MP for Mana.
By coincidence in the Dom Post this morning, Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly also endorsed Hekia:
Porirua Deputy Mayor Liz Kelly has backed National Party candidate Hekia Parata to win the Mana by-election.
Her prediction will cause ripples as Labour’s Kris Faafoi has been favoured to take the seat, which is viewed as one of Labour’s safest. The party has always polled strongly in the Pacific Island and Maori communities.
Local leaders suggested yesterday that Mr Faafoi’s lack of experience is seen as a drawback.
Ms Kelly, an independent councillor, said Ms Parata’s work in the electorate had not gone unnoticed. “The feedback I’m getting is that Hekia is very popular … There is a lot of support because she’s been working the whole time.”
Mr Faafoi was a “nice guy” but “there’s no history” with the electorate and some voters resented that.
And a local community leader:
Samoan community leader Paula Masoe said Ms Parata had won over a lot of Pasifika supporters. “She’s a hard worker and we respect people who work hard for our community. I’m really happy that someone like Kris put their hand up. But it’s not time for him yet. I don’t want the sweat of our people to be put on someone who’s not ready yet.” …
Experience was valued in the Pacific Island community, she said. “It’s not about having someone who is Pacific Island there, you’ve got to have somebody who is able to carry the huge responsibility and he probably will. But not yet.”
There was a “strong feeling” among local voters that Mr Faafoi was imposed on the community by the parliamentary Labour Party.
“Labour needs to look at themselves because we don’t want to be treated like the poor relations. When they look at putting someone in to speak up for us I’d like to think that they’ve considered a whole lot of other people of our community that have been involved in Labour.
And also in the Dom Post, Chris Trotter effectively endorses Matt McCarten in his weekly column:
I asked Matt if he’d heard of Slavoj Zizek – the Slovenian socialist currently setting the cat of principle among the fat, pragmatic pigeons of the European Left.
“I’m busy, Chris,” he chuckled, “of course I haven’t.” “Well, Matt”, I replied, “Zizek is challenging Europe’s social democrats to stop looking over their shoulder at the European Central Bank; to govern “as if they were free”.
“Maybe that’s what you should ask the Mana electors, Matt. To stop looking over their shoulder at Labour. Could be your slogan: ‘Vote – as if you were free’.”
And in the NZ Herald, Audrey Young says Parata should be promoted to the Ministry:
Pansy Wong’s resignation from the Cabinet a week before the Mana byelection presents Prime Minister John Key with a golden opportunity.
He has the chance to add fresh blood to his ministry without the usual resentments around reshuffles and a chance to show Mana the calibre of National’s Hekia Parata. …
promoting Parata before a byelection – even to a minister outside Cabinet – would tell the Mana electorate something of the calibre of the National candidate.
It is clear that some traditional Pacific Island Labour voters are saying they people should vote for the best MP, not for the party. They are right – this is how MMP works.