Political Interference at Auckland’s Pasifika Festival Sees Pacific Protocols IgnoredPosted: March 15, 2010
For a festival that’s been running for 18 years, this is the first time political interference has been allowed to happen. Last year, when National MPs appeared at Pasefika (before 2008, the year of New Zealand’s General Election, they were noticeably absent from Pasefika and other PI events over the years). This incident below happened behind the scenes unbeknown to the rest of the community at large on the day.
Two officials, whom pacificEyeWitness.org have n0t yet named, say they were emailed the instruction mentioned in this release. Not surprisingly, Auckland City Council reps including Auckland City Councillor and National MP for Maungakiekie Sam Lotu-Iiga say they have no knowledge of this instruction to bar Labour MPs from the stages. Lotu-Iiga was welcomed onto the stages without hindrance.
Where were the Pacific Islands Advisory Board for Auckland City Council in all of this? Let us know.
NEW ZEALAND LABOUR PARTY
MP FOR MANGERE
SUN 14TH MARCH 2010
LABOUR MP OBJECTS TO AUCKLAND CITY COUNCIL’S BLATANT BREACH OF POLITICAL NEUTRALITY AT PASEFIKA FESTIVAL
Auckland City Council officials have woefully breached political neutrality by issuing instructions to Pasefika village organisers that Labour MPs not be allowed on the main village stages, says Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio.
It was embarrassing and humiliating to see our people treated with such contempt by this council, says Su’a William Sio.
“In all my years of attending the Pasefika Festival, this is the first time it has ever happened.
In this Festival, it should be Pacific people, not a National-led government, that dictates who can stand up and speak at Pasefika.
“My heart goes out to the village organisers who were visibly uncomfortable carrying out these orders
“We (Labour MPs including Carmel Sepuloni, Chris Carter, Carol Beaumont, Jacinda Ardern,) were aghast at what was happening.
“I will be making my objections very clear on this matter to Auckland City Council and its Organising Committee.
“As an electorate MP, I represent a constituency with one of the largest Pacific populations. We come here to celebrate our cultures. It is our Pacific custom to get up on stage and offer our gratitude, encouragement and support to the wider Pacific communities.”
Some village stages, such as Tokelau, Fiji, Tuvalu and Tahiti, kept to Pacific etiquette and protocol amd invited us on stage.
“But I could tell village organisers were torn between following proper Pacific protocols, or adhering to the instructions of a National-led Auckland City Council and its sensitivities about seeing Labour MPs at our own Pasefika community events.”
“As one of the Pacific MPs, I said to one of the organisers, after they had informed me of the instruction from council: ‘how can you let them do that to Pacific people here? These are Pacific villages, these belong to Pacific communities, not them’, referring to the National-dominated Auckland City Council led by Mayor John Banks.
“This council, led by National’s John Banks, are already acting out the model of autocratic leadership that we don’t want in a SuperCity, says Su’a who sits on the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee reviewing the super city bills before the House and the hundreds of public submissions.
“This is a small, but significant, example of how power concentrated in the hands of one individual, such as the Mayor, can lead to abuses like this.
“Today’s example at the Pasefika Festival abused the goodwill of Pacific people and council and village organisers need to take heed, says Su’a who is also a Samoan matai.
Pasefika organisers say the reason for the ban was that Auckland City Council did not want politics discussed at the Festival.
Yet that ban on talking politics, in practice, only applied to Labour Party MPs, says Su’a.
From 1pm, National Party MPs, including Prime Minister and Auckland City Mayor John Banks were taken from stage to stage making political announcements and promoting National Party MPs on villages main stage.