"It's about creating a voice for our diverse community in Parliament," said Labour's candidate for the Otaki electorate Terisa Ngobi about her attempt at getting a seat in Parliament this year.
"We need our local voices to be heard there."
Though she may seem the underdog to many, having entered the fray much later than other candidates, she's no stranger to politics and political campaigns.
She ran for council last year, garnering 1126 votes for a seat in the Levin ward, which had 19 candidates for its five seats.
"My dad has been involved with the Labour Party for as long as I can remember and he was also active in community work. Now I am a mum with three mixed race boys, I want to ensure they have the best possible future."
She is sticking with Labour through thick and thin, not only because of her family's association with the party. Her dad had been involved in many election campaigns for the Labour Party. For her it is also about the firm belief that Labour is the best political in the country.
"Labour has achieved a lot since the last general election: there has been more for nurses, teachers and more help for sole traders. In Covid-19 1.6 million jobs were saved. We had the lowest unemployment ever and the lowest amount of borrowing in the world.
"I believe Labour is the most diverse party in Parliament."
She said her campaign for the Otaki seat in Parliament is also about rallying the local troops, and "making sure there is enough support for our elders, our children".
And rallying the troops she has. She said she has taken the time to quietly built a diverse campaign team which includes young and old, church goers, farmers, LGBTQ and Pasifika people from around the entire electorate, not just Horowhenua.
"I want to represent all our communities in Parliament, be it Pasifika, Māori, young people, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, the elderly, or children. I am in touch with many people from all these different groups in our communities and created conversations to help them understand each other and give everyone a voice. And they know where to find me."
She said she was born and bred in Horowhenua and spent the last 16 years working for NGOs and government.
"I know the local voice and people from all these local groups tell me when they want or need something. They tell me their point of view without me having to ask for it. This is not about one person. Many of these groups work as a village, we do not do it alone."
While she hasn't made a lot of noise or created a strong public voice for her campaign, in her own communities, word of mouth has been doing the trick. She doesn't see political campaigning as a competition. For Terisa Ngobi it is about the community at large. It is not about her as a person, though she firmly believes she is the best candidate for the job, giving her passion, her background, and experience.
"I am not competing with other candidates for the electorate."
Ngobi has worked in NGOs as well as government agencies and said she has a lot of contacts in both areas, and brings plenty of experience when it comes to connecting NGOs to government departments.
She's been involved in her community is many capacities and has seized opportunities where they came her way. She even did a stint as a columnist for the Chronicle a few years ago, writing articles on women in leadership, many of whom come from these diverse backgrounds.
When she talks about creating a voice for the people of her electorate in the nation's corridors of power, she not only talks about getting things that would make our lives easier. She also talks about sharing what is so good about us.
"The rest of the country needs to know who we are and what we do. For example our annual Children's Day is one of the biggest in the country and as far as I know the only one that is free."
She's a case manager for Work and Income New Zealand and works part time. She's job sharing with someone else and has been working from home during the lockdown.
She reported an increased work load during that time as many more people and businesses need assistance and funding. Much of the latter has been funnelled through WINZ.
Terisa has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/terisangobiotaki/