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Mana Party on NZ's Pacific 'Discrimination', Child Poverty


http://pacific.scoop.co.nz/2011/11/mana-party-slams-nzs-pacific-discrimination-child-poverty/

By Alex Perrottet

AUCKLAND (Pacific Scoop/ Pacific Media Watch): Mana Party candidate for Manukau East John Minto has accused New Zealand of blatantly discriminating against many Pacific people who have made an “immense contribution” to the country.

He spelled out his party’s main issues with Pacific foreign policy in the election campaign.

“The most obvious discrimination is with Tongans and Samoans,” he said. “Cook Islanders and Niueans are effectively citizens of New Zealand.”

New Zealand will on Saturday elect a new government for three years. The conservative National-led government has strong edge in most opinion polls.

“New Zealand has to recognise that it is a Pacific country, and treat our neighbours with respect.”

“The Pacific presence at the World Cup was a real standout. The countries that supported more and got more involved were the Pacific communities here in Auckland. It was a fantastic involvement.”

Minto said people that come from Australia receive more benefits without at times having anything to offer.

Level playing field
“They jump off the plane and get a job and no one bats an eyelid. Even white South Africans enjoy more favour than most Pacific Islanders,” he said.

“It’s about levelling the playing field.”

He said the argument was made that it was an issue of skills.

“But if skills were the issue, we would put up barriers to Australians coming here without any skills, but we don’t.”

Minto said while the contribution of Pacific Islanders had been significant, most of them worked for poor pay.

“In the last three years, the median wage of a Pacific Islander here in New Zealand dropped by $100. That’s the quarterly employment survey of the Statistics Department. The Maori wage dropped by $70,” he said.

“They do the hardest work for the lowest pay.

“And they have literally built the industries in South Auckland.”

Investigation into child poverty
Minto said his small party had not had a chance to develop a “full-blown Pacific policy” but he was seriously concerned with the content of the Inside NZ: Inside Child Poverty documentary screened on TV3 last night.

Bryan Bruce’s six-month investigation into child health problems in Porirua was a damning indictment on New Zealand’s child health system, which stands at 29 in the OECD world rankings.
Minto said it was a disgrace that so many children “have third-world diseases, with poor housing and unable to afford food to eat”.

He also took aim at the sitting member for Manukau East, Labour’s Ross Robertson.

“My beef has been that the Labour Party hasn’t stood by this electorate. They’ve done absolutely nothing here in Manukau East,” he said.

“The Member of Parliament has been here for 20 years and I can’t think of one thing he has done for the Pacific people. Forty eight percent of this electorate are Pacific people.

“It’s shocking, it’s an absolute disgrace.

“Labour knows it’s a disgrace and they’re embarrassed by it.”

Minto is not optimistic about winning the seat, but he says he hopes Mana will get three to four members in Parliament which would be a “good step”.

He said Pacific people needed to rate higher in the priorities of the new government.

“They are the most generous, most hospitable people and we need to show some of that back and Mana is determined to do something about it.”

Pacific Media Watch
Kiwi FM interview with Byran Bruce
Inside Child Poverty: A Special Report

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