Auckland Mayor Phill Goff took the fight to Māori Mayoral Contender John Tamihere for the very first time at Manurewa Marae today.
Pulling no punches both candidates covered issues around social housing, watercare, employment and Ihumātao – which was a topical issue for land protectors, as Auckland Council approved the development, values the land at $36 million.
Manurewa Marae hosted the event as part of ongoing measures to increase Māori voting participation.
Project Manager Krissy Bishop told Te Ao Māori News that the marae decided to have a voting booth available for locals during their weekly community programme.
“Today we added on a kaupapa around elections. Raising awareness around elections why it’s important to use our voice and the importance of having a Māori voice at the table”.
“As a marae we have a lot of interaction with the Kaunihera and sometimes that can be quite frustrating around a whole raft of issues. Each department doesn’t talk to each other so that has been a big issue for us as an urban marae,” said Bishop.
Marae based voting could be a possible solution to what Local Government NZ (LGNZ) believes is the declining usage of the current postal ballot system.
An LGNZ spokesperson said, “NZ Post typically delivers 1.2 million fewer letters every week, with the volume expected to halve in the next four years. Both post offices and post boxes are thinning out.”
“Additionally, many younger and first time voters would have never used the postal system, so it’s increasingly a barrier to participation in elections”.
Te Kaha o Te Rangatahi, a group that focusses on indigenous rangatahi around health, wellness, education, employment & community development is seeking for better voting participation by the youth.
Spokesperson Christina Looker says, “We [Māori] need to understand the importance of local government. Manurewa is heavily populated by Māori, and the problem is there’s no actual hub for us to have these political views so hopefully this group can help ensure that our generation here has a good understanding of what it is about”.
Time will tell the impact that today's debate has made on Auckland voters.
SOUL spokesperson Pania Newton attended the debate expressed her distrust of Goff’s responses, “I don’t believe in what Phil Goff had to say but I saw some truth in JT’s response about Ihumātao. But proof is in the pudding as to how they can support our whanau and our marae at Ihumātao”.
Auckland mayoral candidates for 2019 (in alphabetical order by surname) and their affiliation
Tricia Cheel - STOP Trashing our Planet
Michael Coote - Independent
David John Feist - LiftNZ
Genevieve Forde - Independent
Phil Goff - Independent
John Hong - Independent
Susanna Kruger - Justice for Families
Craig Lord - Independent
Brendan Bruce Maddern - Independent
Thanh Binh Nguyen - Independent
Phil O'Connor - Christians Against Abortion
Tom Sainsbury - Independent
Glen Snelgar - Old Skool
Tadhg Tim Topford - The Hemp Foundation
John Tamihere - JT for Mayor.co.nz
Annalucia Vermunt - Communist League
Wayne Young - Virtual Homeless Community