State Of It: Taito's Career Is Dead Long Live His Successor!
By Selwyn Manning – Scoop co-editor.
See Also: Scoop Audio: Selwyn Manning and 95bFM's Simon Pound discuss the Phillip Field affair and who will likely rise to replace him.
News broke about 11:30 this morning that Taito Phillip Field has been stood down on indefinite leave, pending the outcome of a police inquiry into allegations of corruption – this clearly is the slow undoing of that great opportunity for the first Samoan, Pacific Islander, to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament.
This latest event in the demise of Taito Phillip Field is clearly beginning to hurt Labour. The polls are showing the tide of support ebbing. This explains the Prime Minister's toughening stance on Monday at the post-Cabinet press conference – where she fired off a message, publicly, to Field to re-think his future with Labour and as an MP.
This indefinite leave issue as announced today, places Field in a situation that he will never recover from. Even should the Police investigation conclude with no charge, Field has clearly lost touch with, and lost support from, those networks in Manukau that until recently remained loyal. They now feel disgraced, and they want Field to remove the stigma unfurling before them by removing himself from the job.
In short, the Mangere electorate wants this slight on their community, on their culture, removed by Field with him taking responsibility for it. It is not good enough for him to blame alleged favours as cultural practice, they say.
Yesterday I was down in Manukau and met up with a few people – key people – political animals if you like. They were former supporters of Field, and remain committed to the Labour Party way in South Auckland. Their message was consistent with what is being portrayed on our Television screens via vaux pops and the like… Manukau wants Field to resign and restore a shred of dignity in realizing his political time has come to an end.
So, who is there to replace him?
Speculation emerging from the Parliamentary press gallery of a non-Pacific Islands candidate representing Labour in a Mangere by-election, is out of keeping with the requirements of Mangere's people. As strong as Hamish McCracken and others were as candidates in the last election, they do not come close to the special "Mr Honourable" status gifted to former Prime Minister and Mangere MP David Lange - and as such will not be suited to the needs of the Pacific Islands community in this suburb of South Auckland.
So who is? Well let's look at some people here:
Mangere Ward – Alf Filipaina – Alf is Mangere's well respected former community constable, he was also a key player for the police in the hunt for the Manukau serial rapist, Joseph Thompson. But Alf is firmly implanted into Manukau City Council as a councilor and is vital to progress for his people at that level. Mangere also has Arthur Solomon, but he too is unlikely to be a candidate. Otara Ward Councillor Arthur Anae (former Nat list MP) could run for National in Mangere but wouldn't win.
My bet is that Otara Ward councillor Su'a William Sio would stand for Labour and pull together a winning ticket.
William Sio's got the confidence of the Labour Party. He has been mentored by Manukau's prominent former councilor, and likely front runner for the next mayoralty, Len Brown.
William Sio is also already nudging close to being an MP at two clicks away from Parliament at 47 on the Labour Party list.
William is Samoan and holds the Matai or Chieftain title of Su'a from the village of Matatufu from the island of Upolu in Samoa. He belongs to the extended family headed by the High Chief Aupito, a Matai title currently held by William's father.
He is currently the Chair of Manukau's Council Plan Committee.
Time will tell. But no, my guess is Phillip Field cannot regain the confidence of his people. And once that sinks in, and he realises that they feel disgraced by him, then he will drift off. He owes it to himself to go and uphold the mana that his title commands.
If there's a by-election in Mangere, then the Labour Party will be the stronger for it – especially should William Sio take up the challenge.