Pacific voice grows in NZ

Islanders influence election outcome

Auckland: Over 330,000 Pacific people living in New Zealand now have a bigger voice in parliament following September’s General Election which saw the National Party re-elected for a third consecutive term in Government. The campaign trail was littered with revelations, lies and “dirty politics,” but voters stayed faithful to Prime Minister John Key.

Seven Pacific Members of Parliament will be sworn into the 51st New Zealand Parliament on November 20, the most ever Pacific MPs and one more than the six Pacific MPs elected in 2011. Two Pacific MPs have departed: New Zealand First List MP Asenati Lole-Taylor lost her place after controversially being demoted down the party list and Labour’s Indo-Fijian MP Rajan Prasad has retired. The new face is Labour’s Manukau East MP, Jenny Salesa, a former policy analyst who was motivated to stand after returning to New Zealand after nearly a decade living in the United States and finding Pacific communities were worse off than when she had left.

She becomes only the second Tongan to enter New Zealand’s parliament following Labour’s Carmel Sepuloni, who returns to politics after narrowly losing her seat by recount in 2011. Sepuloni is one of five Labour MPs elected joining Salesa, Su’a William Sio (Samoan), Kris Fa’afoi (Tokelauan) and Poto Williams (Cook Islander). National returns its two Pacific MPs, Maungakiekie’s Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga (Samoan) and List MP, Alfred Ngaro (Cook Islander). The nature of New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system could see List candidate Fia Turner become National’s third Pacific MP depending on the outcome of the Special Votes which were still being counted at press time. Turner is 53rd on the National Party list.

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