Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Green Party’s Pasifika candidates keen to make a difference for the community

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Green Party Palmerston North Candidate Teanau Tuiono knows what it takes to get back into parliament.

We catch up with him on a Saturday afternoon delivering pamphlets and pressing the flesh with his dedicated team of campaign workers

“We’re psyched for it, we’re pumped for it, we’re getting out. we’re  knocking on those doors, heading down to the markets, releasing our policies,” he says.

“People like what they’re hearing from us, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s about climate and it’s about humanity. It’s about people, and it’s about the planet.” 

Having become an MP at the last election off the party list, Tuiono’s been elevated from eight in 2020, to number five for this election. At current polling, he’s a shoe-in to serve another term in the house and he credits the hard work of the wider Greens whanau.

“Our volunteers have been incredibly hardworking and enthusiastic because we are a, you know, we are a people driven party. We’re pulled together by our members, our members decide our policy. They pull together our messaging as well so the Green Party in Parliament, we’re the parliamentary face of a wider green green movement. So it’s awesome to sort of see it all clicking into place for us.” 

Out on the hustings, the high cost of living is having an impact, especially for renters. 

“Making sure that we do everything that is good for renters is really, really important. Everybody should be able to, you know, put food on the table, keep the lights on, have a warm whare and I think that’s what we want for everybody, and particularly for our Pasifika families as well.” 

Climate change is another issue Tuiono is passionate about and says while the Pacific Islands have borne the brunt of the effects of climate change, Aotearoa is also feeling it.

“I was just thinking about our relatives on the other side of the hill, of the Ruahines and Hastings and Napier. You know, that frontline is shifting this way in very, very real terms,” he says.

“You know we had the massive floods because of cyclone Gabrielle, and also the floods that happened right up to highway 35 up north and in Auckland.”

And for this election Tuiono is not the only Pasifika person running for the Greens. Former Auckland city councillor and mayoral candidate Fa’anana Efeso Collins is standing in Auckland for the Greens.

“I’m stoked for the possibility of doubling the Pasifika Greens caucus with my uso Fa’anana Efeso collins coming over bro, and I’ve known him for a long time now,” Tuiono enthuses.

“Efeso, me,  Marama (Davidson, Greens co-leader), we were all at university together as well, so glad to see him within our team.” 

Over at a Pasifika men’s breakfast meeting in Papatoetoe, Auckland, we catch up with Fa’anana at the first of three engagements for the day. He’s been doing his best to raise the Green Party’s profile in the electorate he’s standing in, Panmure-Otahuhu.

“It’s been exciting and I’m really glad that I’m standing here in my home area because this is a community I know really well. I’m able to engage with people. I go out shopping and you meet people all the time. So our shopping has gone from a 45 minute experience to probably two hours now,” he says.

No stranger to campaigning, Fa’anana says he’s been focusing on capturing the youth vote, especially on social media.

“There’s often people who are between the ages of 18 and 40 who will give the Greens a genuine consideration,” he says.

“But we’re out there; it’s all about beating the feet, coming to community engagements like this, knocking on doors, meeting people at cafes and making sure that people have an opportunity to talk to me.”

At number 11 on the Green Party list Fa’anana is on the cusp of becoming an MP on current polling but he knows there’s a long way to go and he’s keen to put the skills he’s learnt as a local body politician to work for the Greens.

“There’s not a lot of difference because key to me is strong advocacy and I’ve wanted strong advocacy for this community,” he says.

“I remember when I was a councillor, I went against the grain of my own Party. I got into trouble for doing that and I feel free and liberated now that I’m with a party, and the Green Party, that gives me the ability to speak my mind, to be honest and robust and that’s what I believe is needed in politics today.” 

In the meantime, Fa’anana will be focusing on getting his community out to vote come polling day.

“Here in Panmure-Otahuhu we’re running a two tick campaign, and I think there’s a genuine alternative for people,” he says,

“I’m an Otara boy through and through. This is my community, I’ve lived here all my life so they’ve got that genuine, home-grown alternative to the Labour Party and I’d invite people to consider voting for me and for voting for the Greens.”

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