Those enrolled in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate are hungry for a government that will deliver on housing, employment and the rising cost of living.
Representing Maori from the upper reaches of Gisborne down to Lower Hutt, the Ikaroa-Rawhiti candidate elected this year has a big job ahead if they are to address issues raised by the community.
Flaxmere man Rapata Turner has challenged the political candidates to front up and offer practical solutions to the region’s issues as election day fast approaches.
“Politicians have got to walk the talk. I want them to talk honestly because it’s our kids who are going to suffer and they are already suffering. I’m talking for our kids. The future needs to be better for them.”
Incumbent Labour MP Meka Whaitiri, Maori party co-leader Marama Fox and Green Party’s Dr Elizabeth Kerekere are all running for the Ikaroa-Rawhiti electorate this year.
Mr Turner said water quality was a “drastic issue” that needed to be addressed.
“We can’t even drink from our taps. If water is contaminated today imagine what it is going to be like for our kids. I’m worried about my grandchildren, my nieces and my nephews.”
Whakatu resident Jeni Smith said she would be voting for Labour’s Meka Whaitiri for this reason.
“I’ve lived here all my life. We have beautiful water but they’ve put water plants out there. We’ve never had chlorine in our water before and I don’t want to see our supply chlorinated.
“I just want it to stay the same, no chlorine and no bottling or selling it overseas. Just leave our water alone.”
Other common concerns held by those voting in Ikaroa-Rawhiti were unemployment and the rising cost of housing.
Flaxmere resident Vaughn Marsh said he would be voting for Green Party’s Dr Elizabeth Kerekere because he had heard her speak about the region’s issues before and thought she would deliver.
“Employment is a major issue everywhere in New Zealand but it seems to be getting worse here. My 20-year-old son can only get seasonal work which is only good for a couple of months.
“Back in our day you could go from job to job no problem. If you address unemployment properly, the rest will follow.”
Paratene Edwards of Bridge Pa said he was also concerned about unemployment among the homeless.
“There are more and more homeless people now. It’s our younger generation we’ve really got to tap into. If we can get our young people working that will help homelessness.”
Jimmy Kaka of Flaxmere said homelessness had only got worse on the government’s watch and added that a place to sleep may help them into employment and off the streets permanently.
The cost of living troubled many young, solo mothers who depended on the sole parent benefit and struggled to find jobs with flexible hours.
Deanna Naera of Camberley and Cheyenne Franzen of Flaxmere said the cost of rent, food and child necessities such as nappies and clothing left little to spare in their weekly budget.
“You can’t really live on the amount you’re given, it’s just a matter of getting by. It’s a struggle,” Ms Naera said.
Flaxmere resident Kelly Tai said the cost of healthy food made it hard to stick to a healthy diet.
“They really need to address the pricing of food. People can’t afford to eat healthy.
“They’re [the government] always talking about obesity rates but it’s cheaper to buy fast food than fruit and vegetables. A lettuce cost four dollars and sometimes it’s eight dollars for a bag of tomatoes.”
Angelina Wairau of Whakatu said many young families were opting to live with their parents, not because they want to but because they have to.
“One of our key issues is definitely chasing the kiwi dream of owning your own home. For the average kiwi chasing that dream it’s getting further and further away.”
Nadia Rewi of Maraenui said she was a solo parent living with her mother because rent prices had exceeded what she could afford.
“The cost of living is dear. I’m currently living with my mum because I can’t find an affordable place to live that doesn’t require me to be on a waiting list for years.”
She said more parent-friendly jobs with flexible working hours could help her into her own place.
“I just want employers to understand you can’t work to 5pm without notice or time to organise a babysitter. My babies always come first in my life.”
Maraenui resident Paulette Hema said there was a lot of poverty and a lack of affordable housing in her suburb.
“There’s so many young people around here who are unemployed and get up to mischief or hooked on drugs.”
Recently diagnosed with cancer, Ms Hema said she had to leave her job because she couldn’t focus at work while she underwent chemotherapy.
“My income dropped from $800 to $200 a week. It’s a real struggle. We have to rely on our kids to make ends meet. I’d like to see benefits increase for those in genuine need.”
New Zealand News