Prime Minister targets Labour stronghold

John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell
John Key. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Prime Minister John Key spoke to more than 500 members of South Auckland's Pasifika community today in an attempt to sway votes from the Labour stronghold.

The meeting, with Pacific church leaders at the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church in Mangere, was also a platform to promote National's candidate for Mangere, Misa Fia Turner.

However, even National's Pacific Island Affairs Minister and Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga admitted that unseating incumbent Mangere MP, Labour's Su'a William Sio, would be a tough ask.

"I wouldn't get overly optimistic about it," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.

Ms Turner had worked hard in the local community, however the meeting's primary aim was to shore up the party vote for National, he said.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said he grew up in the Mangere community and was once too a Labour voter, but he had been seeing a shift in support towards National. "Things are changing around here."

Also at the meeting was Manukau city church group member Del Kumandan, who said he too had seen National's support grow in the area.

"The tide's definitely turning?the people are identifying with what National is doing for them."

However, not all were as convinced.

Robert Ramsay said he had previously been a Labour voter, but had become disillusioned with the political process and wasn't planning on voting in November's general election.

"I used to be a hard-core Labour voter but then I just stopped voting...I'm just not really interested in politics anymore."

Christina Pauu-Tonuga said National was still seen as promoting a "rich man's world".

"There's still a lot of poverty and I don't see much change happening."

Yet Prime Minister John Key said there had been a shift in support in the Labour stronghold of South Auckland.

"We've been saying for quite some time that we see a shift in the Pacific voting patterns.

"I can't think of a time when I've been the leader of the National Party when we would have had so many people in Mangere turn up for a National Party meeting .

"I think it just sends a very strong message that there are changes afoot in voting patterns for Pacific New Zealanders.

"Our big job now is to make sure that come the polling day they do turn up and they do cast their party vote for National."

The Pacific community had been identifying with National Party values more after coming to New Zealand and originally finding work in low-skilled, unionised jobs dominated by the Labour movement, Mr Key said.

"We're still very much the underdog with Pacific voters and also, in South Auckland, but I think we are going to do better in this election then we've done in the past."

- APNZ

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