Sunday, March 30, 2014

I support NZ Labour

Labour Candidate Richard Hills and Labour List MP Darien Fenton.

The fact that I support the New Zealand Labour Party isn’t news—I often mention that. But now I really support Labour, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Today, my friend Richard Hills, who I’ve mentioned several times, was confirmed as the Labour Party candidate for Parliament in the Northcote Electorate. For the first time in about a decade, I’m taking part in an election campaign, to help Richard and the NZ Labour Party win the election.

When I became a NZ Permanent Resident (June 16, 1999), I immediately registered to vote, because all NZ citizens and Permanent Residents are required to register to vote (voting itself is optional). In November of that year, NZ had a General Election, and I decided to take part.

I volunteered for the campaign of Labour Candidate Ann Hartley, chiefly doing things like delivering literature and scrutineering on Election Day. Ann won. After that, I took part in the Northcote Labour organisation, and helped Ann win re-election in the 2002 General Election (mostly doing the same stuff I did in 1999).

The following year, we moved to Paeroa, where we lived during the 2005 General Election campaign. I created the ads for the Labour Party candidate in that electorate and organised publication of the ads on his behalf, and I also accompanied the candidate from time to time.

When we returned to Auckland the following year, I didn’t get around to getting involved in Labour again, so I basically sat out the 2008 and 2011 campaigns (though I voted Labour, of course). I got to know Richard after he was elected as member of the Kapatiki Local Board of Auckland Council in 2010 (I voted for him).

In the years since, I’ve gotten to know Richard far better than any other politician I’ve known. When he was running for re-election to the Kaipatiki Local Board last year, I said:
“I’ve come to know [Richard] as one of the most upbeat and positive people in politics. He’s been a tireless advocate for the Kaipatiki Local Board area, as well as for youth. What’s impressed me in particular is that when opponents have been, um, unhelpful, he’s stayed focused on progress and moving the community—and Auckland in general—forward. I’m sure there are times that he didn’t feel all that positive about what opponents were doing, but he didn’t let that affect his overall positivity.”
His positivity is reflected in his inclusiveness: As a member of the local board, he’s worked with people throughout the community, and that’s something he’ll continue to do as a Member of Parliament. His main areas of focus are Youth, Transport and Housing, all issues that are important in this electorate and the country as a whole.

A major obstacle that Labour faced in the last two elections is the large number of Labour supporters who didn’t vote. As a Millennial, Richard’s able to reach out to his fellow younger voters. But Richard also has worked extensively with the many and diverse communities that make up this electorate, which, he notes, pretty much mirrors Auckland’s multi-cultural makeup. Many of those communities—Pasifika and Maori in particular—also tend to have large numbers of non-voters.

Richard has also gathered together a diverse group of supporters and volunteers to help him maximise the Labour vote. I’m proud to say that I’m part of that team, taking on the role of campaign manager. But we’re not hierarchical, as that sounds—we’re a team. Most of my role will be to assist Richard on some of the behind-the-scenes tasks so that he can focus on being the candidate, and to make sure that all his campaign team knows what’s going on.

I’m proud to be helping to elect Richard Hills and increase Labour’s Party Vote in this electorate. We have a great candidate, a great team working for him and a great message to present to voters. It will be a very exciting six months!

I took the photo above shortly after Richard was confirmed as our candidate. With him is Darien Fenton, a Labour List MP whose office is in this electorate. She’s also Labour’s Transport Spokesperson.

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