The looming election campaign is expected to be frantic, chaotic and very possibly dirty. Early polls suggest that the balance of parliamentary power may once again be held by Winston Peters and the New Zealand First (NZF) party.
With Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party launch last week, another factor is added to make this election different from any we have seen before.
On Monday at the Manurewa flea market was just another day of campaigning for National MP Dr. Cam Calder until a group of Pacific leaders turned up to join the National Party when they should be at church.
Even without knowing who they were, their presence including size certainly was making a statement and turning heads at the market.
Teleiai Edwin Puni, a well known and respected leader among the Pacific communities introduced the group, “If we are to defend our Christian values and build a brighter future for New Zealand families, we need to engage our Pacific people and vote National. And there is no better place to make that stand than here in Manurewa on a Sunday.”
Pacific people who are devoted Christians are very disappointed with Labour policies that are now law which are directly against their beliefs. This may not come as a surprise to the Labour’s war room strategists.
What is significant is the growing split in allegiance in Auckland where Labour holds most of the electorate seats, particularly South Auckland.
Sooalo Setu Mu’a summed up the mood, “My family was the backbone of the Labour campaign in Otara when Taito Philip Field entered politics. That strong support continued through to Mangere. To change from wearing red to blue is not an easy thing for our Pacific communities who have been voting Labour over the years. But today, I take back my families destiny and will vote National.”
Former Manu Samoa CEO Tuilagi Saipele Esera, businessman Aiiloilo Dr. Elise Puni and church leader Jenkins Tesese shared the same sentiments.
Vui Kelemete Vitale who ran in the 2008 general election in Manurewa under the New Zealand Pacific Party (NZPP) also turned up to pledge his support for National. NZPP had the highest party vote in 2008 behind Labour and National, ahead of the minor parties New Zealand First, ACT and the Greens.
The Pacific vote factor may very well be the key to the makeup of the next Government with National winning red seats in Auckland.