by Jan Logie
Kia ora kotou katoa, Talofa lava, Kia orana, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Bula vinaka, Namaste, Taloha ni, Halo ola keta, Mauri and warm warm Green Party greetings to you all.
My name is Jan Logie and I am incredibly honoured to be the Green Party spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs.
Tonight is the culmination of quite a lot of work by the Pasifika network. Thank you Pa’u and the whole network team, and province for making tonight happen.
It’s especially encouraging to see so many of you here because, apart from you all looking so good, I’m looking for my replacement. Don’t misinterpret me I love this role but I also believe strong Green Pasifika leadership would really help our party, our communities and the whole country.
I am spokesperson for 8 portfolios but have made Pacific Affairs one of my priorities because I believe Pacific communities can teach New Zealand a lot about climate change, community building, and more unfortunately about the impacts of inequality. I believe you can be an inspiration for the change this country needs.
I would like to speak a little tonight about change, through the metaphor of the Samoan tides and winds and I would like to thank my friend, here tonight, Mataia Ramona Tiatia for the inspiration and images and let you know that she holds absolutely no responsibility for my rather cheeky interpretation and use of the metaphors.
Taimasato represents the tide-smelly-dead-deep, petrified landmass, the vanquished tide, exposed to the elements.
As you know all too well, Pasifika peoples were brought to new Zealand as workers in the 50s and 60s and then when the jobs dried the government of this country turned on the people who had helped build the strusture and wealth of this. This country has never come to terms with this history. Our successive governments have kept Pacific people in stagnant water barred from the fresh life giving waters. Tragically all too many Pacific peoples are still stagnating in poverty, worn down by multiple low paid jobs, and smelly, damp housing. Pacific children are still being forced to drink the polluted waters of inadequate education and health. Pacific peoples have been left exposed to the elements without protection of a government who cares.
The Taioalo tides can describe our whole political system – the familial relationships, wisdom of elders on surface while underneath the tensions and the pressures of the next generation stir things up. The under tow usually represents our youth, women, children and carers. While ethical responsibilities are still in the hands of politicians, we can make things look very smooth and wonderful but underneath you know there lies a rip tide. I believe our job as political leaders is to bring the riptide to the awareness of everyone, to harness that energy so it can bring movement and a fresh renewable resource. So far we haven’t had political leadership to do this.
Labour seem to be stuck in the La’i winds. A wind whose momentum is lost, force is diminished, that is beyond reach unable to be of use to others. Traditionally Labour has been the party for pacific people, bound to the experience and voice of workers. Labour stood up for Pacific families and people. But when the tides changed in the 80s Labour lost it’s way and have increasingly lost momentum. They seem unsure of what they stand for and are unable to connect to the riptide of dissatisfaction, the tumbling energy of the undertow that holds the potential to bring Pacific people out of the stagnant waters.
And National seems to be bringing the Si’uamouli back. The Si’uamouli wind is freezing cold, it’s felt as unprovoked and extreme, really feared by the elderly, it turns the fruit black and causes death. It breaks things. This for me is the symbol most appropriate for the attack on work conditions, the tax cuts for the wealthy while GST goes up, the cuts to health and welfare, the attacks we’re soon to see on our community organisations, the introduction of national standards that will label so many of our children as failures, the shifting of aid money in the Pacific to further NZ political and economic goals instead of meeting the needs of Pacific communities. The winds behind these policies may go unnoticed by those in nice warm offices or homes but they are chilling chilling winds that will do most harm to those kept in the stagnant waters poverty.
This brings us to the Greens which I suspect for many of you is probably represented best by Taifula the state of tide that is hard to discern. Is this the high tide or low tide? Are things getting better or are they getting worse.
While I think the tide is now just starting to roll back and I feel confident that we’ve got a long way to go before we reach our high tide I acknowledge that for many Pacific people leaving Labour is a big step and as the Greens have not been in power yet you may be unsure whether we will actually be the party to make the difference for you.
I believe if you look at our policy, and look at what we’ve done outside of Government you will get a sense of which way the tide is turning. To name just a few of our successes: Our $323 million home insulation scheme has made more than 100,000 Kiwi homes warmer, we’ve made the other political parties start talking about Climate change, we got a Disability Commissioner, we’ve put child poverty and inequality on the political agenda, and we got rid of youth rates.
Our policies, which are developed by our members, hold the economy, environment and people together. We do not believe in solutions that leave anyone in polluted waters, a vanquished tide. Rather than cut welfare we would create jobs that will be good for our environment. Rather than sell off state assets we would use the profits from our energy companies to invest in Green technology so we can all have cheaper and more sustainable power. Rather than introduce national standards in education we would invest in bi-lingual resources, smaller classes and teacher training. Rather than driving down work conditions we would raise the minimum wage and make it easier for workers to stand together. Rather than ignore Pasifika peoples we will welcome your energy and ideas.
Our track record, and policies are a good start for reading the tides, but mostly our ability to harness the energy of those riptides to bring people out of the Taimasato is dependent on you and me. It is all of our hopes, all of our voices, and all of our energy that will bring change. Together I believe we can become the Fa’asulu wind. The Unrelenting Wind, that urgent escape that goes straight to the heart of the matter. This is what will create the movement and energy we need to create a society where we can all participate and achieve.
Finally I would like to formally invite each and every one of you to participate in and join to the green Party and extend this invitation to your friends and family. On behalf of the party and the existing Pacifica members I want you to know your membership and participation will be valued and truly appreciated. In the Green Party the policy is developed by the membership. There is a place for you here to help shape who we all are. I’m your temporary mouthpiece, albeit a one committed to change. For me the hope of our Party and our country is in some ways reliant on you taking ownership of this agenda and party.
Fafetaelava, malo aupito, meitaki ma’ata, thank you so much for coming tonight I hope to see lots more of you all.