15 Oct 2013

Low Pasifika vote seen as cry for stronger leadership

10:30 am on 15 October 2013

Auckland's mayor and new council are being warned to heed the message behind the very low turnout by Pasifika voters at the latest local government elections.

Despite a record number of Pasifika candidates' being elected to local boards, turnout in Pasifika strongholds in South Auckland was less than 30% - lower than the citywide average.

One of two new Pasifika local board members for Otara, Efeso Collins, says it's a signal Pacific communities want stronger leadership of a proposal to develop South Auckland.

He says mayor Len Brown must make sure the two Pasifika councillors, Alf Filipaina and Anae Arthur Anae, take the lead with the development.

Mr Collins also says that if Mr Brown wants a higher Pasifika turnout at the next election, he needs to get progress made on education and jobs.

A Pasifika candidate for the mayoralty, Uesifili Unasa, believes it could take another generation before the city gets a Pasifika mayor.

Mr Unasa came a distant sixth behind Mr Brown but says his campaign was a success because it got Pasifika communities talking about leading the city, instead of leaving it to others.

But he says the bigger issue of whether Auckland will get a Pasifika mayor will be up to a younger generation.

Mr Unasa says although a record number of Pasifika candidates got elected in Auckland, the low turnout by Pasifika voters is a clear signal they aren't happy with the city's leadership.