1 Sep 2023

How NZ's political parties aim to woo Pacific voters in election

11:03 am on 1 September 2023
Mangere College Students’ at Polyfest.

Mangere College Students’ at Polyfest. Photo: Lydia Lewis/RNZ Pacific

New Zealand's political parties are pitching their policies to Pasifika voters as the 2023 election looms.

More than 8 percent of New Zealand is of Pacific origin and contribute $8 billion per annum to the country's economy.

Major issues like housing, amnesty for overstayers, the cost of living crisis, and supporting struggling students is front of mind for many Pacific families.

About 46 percent of the Pacific population is under 25 years of age.

RNZ Pacific has contacted all the main parties on their policies ahead of the election which takes place on October 14.


While Labour's Pacific election priorities are yet to be announced, the party's spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni said Labour has been focused on the challenges Pacific communities face for the last six years.

"Health, education, wage growth, you know, all of those things that Pacific people are not necessarily alone on," Sepuloni said.

"But more often than not, because Pacific people often are represented in the low to middle income households.

And these things matter. So many of the policies that we've implemented over the last six years have had a direct benefit on Pacific peoples."

Sepuloni reiterated the importance of the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

"Our population group agencies are so important. They are in place because we have to recognise that disparities still exist," Sepuloni said.

Sepuloni confirmed no decision on an amnesty for overstayers is to be made before Parliament dissolves.


National's Pacific peoples spokesperson Shane Reti said his priorities include addressing the cost of living, transport and health.

A national-led government would not back an amnesty for overstayers. The Ministry for Pacific People's would stay under National.

Reti said Pacific health providers are also part of National's plans.

"I just can't tell you at the moment. So just hold your breath here a moment," he said.

"I support our multi health providers, our Pasifica providers, and the primary care is vital to the health system going forward. And I will back that with policy. I just can't tell you here today."

National has announced its tax cut policy, which is to benefit middle New Zealand.

It also wants to scrap the 20-hours' free early childhood education for two-year-olds and get rid of subsidised public transport.

Dr Reti would not accept either moves would have adverse effects on Pacific communities.

The Greens

Green Party Pacific People's spokesperson Teanau Tuiono continued to call for an amnesty for overstayers following the government's dawn raids apology in 2021.

"I was hopeful with the last immigration minister that we were going to get an amnesty for overstayers.... I am hopeful. There is still time to do it."

Meanwhile, the Greens are offering free dental care for everyone paid for by a wealth tax.

About 40 percent of New Zealanders actively avoid dental care because they can't afford it.

Tuiono said addressing work agreements under the RSE schemes was also important.


If elected the ACT party plans to address "wasteful spending" by axing the Ministry of Pacific Peoples, Human Rights Commission and the Ministry for Women.

ACT Deputy leader Brooke van Velden said their policies are for "all New Zealanders" and don't focus on one specific group of people.

"We believe that we are a modern, multi-ethnic democracy. That every person no matter their race, religion, gender, feel equal. That's what our policies represent," van Velden said.

ACT also plans to increase GP funding by 13 percent, what is said was the equivalent of 2.5 million GP visits per year.

New Zealand First

New Zealand First policies seemed to focus on "ending racism" by withdrawing the country from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

The party, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, would also introduce legislation to make English an official language of New Zealand.

New Zealand's two official languages are Māori and Sign Language.

The Opportunities Party

The Opportunities Party (TOP) wants to invest in the future of younger generations.

If elected the party proposed to offer a teal card - essentially a 'SuperGold' card, but for young people.

TOP leader Raf Manji said all New Zealanders under the age of 30 would be eligible.

"We are proposing fully funded health care. That includes GP visits. Mental health support, fully funded contraception, ultrasounds which has also been a barrier for people on low income. Fully funded transport."

He said it would be a big benefit to Pasifika youth.

* Te Pati Māori were contacted but did not respond.

Follow the links below for more information on party polices:

Labour Party

National (being updated)



NZ First


Photo: Supplied