“Vote Aunty Jacinda” Labour supporters say after meeting the candidates in Ōtāhuhu

AUCKLAND, NZ. With early voting well underway, members of the Tongan community in Auckland  met with the candidates last Saturday in Ōtāhuhu.

(L-R) Candidate Patrick Brown from the Communist League Party, Mote Pahulu of New Conservative Party, Green Party candidate for the Panmure Otahuhu electorate Mark Simiona, Faye Lavaka Tangipa of One Party, and Papakura-based Labour list MP Anahila Suisuiki, Member for Manukau East and Cabinet Minister, Jenny Salesa. Photo/Kalino Lātū (Kaniva Tonga)

Attending the meeting were Member for Manukau East and Cabinet Minister, Jenny Salesa, Mote Pahulu of New Conservative Party, Faye Lavaka Tangipa of One Party, palagi candidate Patrick Brown from the Communist League Party, Green Party candidate for the Panmure Ōtāhuhu electorate, Cook Islander Mark Simiona and Papakura-based Labour list MP Anahila Suisuiki .

Representatives from small parties took the opportunity to attack the Labour government.

Criticisms included claims that it supported policies that went against Tongan values and Christian faith such as the End of Life Act and the legalisation of Cannabis for recreational uses.

However, Hon. Suisuiki said there were 120 MPs in Parliament and the idea for End of Life Act  came from Act Party leader David Seymour. She said she and Hon. Salesa voted against.

The Cannabis Bill came from the Green Party.

Pahulu said the New Conservative Party’s policies aligned well with families and were “excellent.”

Tangipa said she was running for Parliament in response to a call from God.

Salesa, who is New Zealand’s first Tongan born MP, was asked whether Labour would help elderly people to use community halls  and mobile phones.

She said the government had budgeted $20 million for the Pacific Provider Development Fund and there could be an investigation into whether funding could come from that.

If members of the community wanted to teach the Tongan Language they could apply for funds from the $80 million set aside for Pacific Adult Education.

She said Labour had restored the $16 milion  Adult Community Education after it was cut by the Nationals. Salesa said it was important that people be able to study.

After the meeting Labour supporters who attended the meeting took to Facebook to hit back at their critics.

Meleane Fatafehi ‘O Lapaha said on Facebook: “ So I went to the “Meet the candidates” meeting in Otahuhu, and I thought I accidently stopped by a church service with the many scripture verses I was hearing. No offence to our good lord. I can listen to the word all day everyday, I just don’t think that being a Christian individual or a Christian party is enough qualification or experience to run a nation let alone be a Prime Minister of New Zealand. It’s a no for me! Vote aunty Jacinda. Let’s keep moving.”


It has been estimated that more than one million votes have already been cast as the Electoral Commission announced that early voting figures are up by 50% on the 2017 election.

Over the weekend there were 1350 voting stations open on Saturday and 850 on Sunday to cope with demand. It is expected that 2600 voting stations will be open on October 17.

People of Pacific Island descent traditionally vote for the Labour Party and some of the strongest Labour seats in the last election are Pasifika strongholds.

The Pacific community has strong representation at Ministerial and Cabinet level, including Auckland-based MPs Carmel Sepuloni and Aupito William Sio.

Labour is expected to be returned to power, but support for coalition partners the Greens has slipped.

A range of resources in Tongan on how to enrol and vote in the 2020 General Election and referenda are available online at the address given below.

Election 2020: Early voting up 50 percent on 2017

Tongan electoral resources

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