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National Party leader Christopher Luxon.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon.

Photo/ Supplied/ RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Politics

‘Get involved’: Prime Minister-elect’s call to Pacific communities

Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon says he wants to tap into the Pacific community's talent, but is it little too late.

Taualofa Totua
Taualofa Totua
Published
01 November 2023, 3:33pm
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“Get involved.”

That’s the message from Prime Minister-elect Christopher Luxon to Pacific communities.

“I want a National Party that’s representative of all of New Zealand but for that to happen, I need people to get involved, to join the party, to take on positions and to stand as candidates.”

In his first interview with 531pi post-election, Luxon told Pacific Mornings, he believes there’s plenty of talent to tap into within the Pacific community.

“There’s some fantastic leaders [out there] that need to come through in our party and make a big contribution to New Zealand.”

Watch the full interview below:

Currently National’s only Pacific candidate, Cook Islander Angee Nicholas is in line for a seat in Parliament via the Te Atatū electorate which she holds by 30 votes over Phil Tywford.

But before that’s locked in, Nicholas will be joining the rest of the country this Friday, awaiting the final collation of the nation’s votes to confirm whether she will be her area's MP.

And given her tenuous position, coupled with the fact that none of National’s other Pacific candidates were ranked high enough to gain a list seat, questions remain about whether Luxon’s invitation has arrived too late.

Pacific leaders, including former National MP Alfred Ngaro, have been vocal about what the potential of zero representation in government would mean for Pacific communities. And regarding this critique that the National Party has not done enough to encourage more Pacific people to join its party, Pacific Mornings host Levi Matautia-Morgan asked Luxon whether his party truly cares about Pacific people.

“I really don’t accept that at all,” he responded.

“We’ve got probably our most active and best group over the last three years, what we call our Pacific peoples group. They’ve done an incredible job.”

The group is called the Pacific Blues and is led by Agnes Loheni, who Luxon credits, along with Rosemary Bourke and Angee Nicholas and “a whole bunch of people”, for re-energising the whole National Party.

He says they hold very senior office positions across the party but there is still a lot more National would like to do to attract Pacific people.

“We think National Party values are quite aligned with Pacific community values to be honest," he says.

The party website outlines a number of values including; equal opportunity for all, reward for hard work, personal responsibility, strong families and caring communities.

Luxon adds that his party has been working hard to counter the generations who have been loyal to Labour, by targeting younger Pacific folk, who he says will emerge to be great future leaders within the party.

“Irrespective if you think the National Party is your party or not, I’d love it if you could get involved with the National Party more and more.

“Join our Pacific Blues group - that’s where a lot of the energy is sitting and our future is sitting in the National Party.”

The country has waited nearly three weeks for the preliminary election results to be finalised by the Electoral Commission but Luxon says he was unsurprised by the way the election has turned out.

And he’s ready: “to just get things done”.

On the matter of coalition talks with ACT and New Zealand First, Luxon is tight-lipped - as he has been with all media since 14 October. But he told Pacific Mornings he believes very strongly in building a relationship at the core of everything.

“They’re progressing well. In the intervening period I’m building the relationships and progressing arrangements with those respective parties because it’s important for New Zealand to have a strong and stable government.”