Uh, oh. More demands for strengthening an ethnic group’s voice in our governance arrangements seems to be looming.
This time – the Herald tells us – Auckland’s Pacific community is planning
… to take to the streets this month in a bid to gain a voice in the country they now call home.
Actually, it’s probably wrong to say the community is planning this. More likely, a few community leaders are planning it.
But what do they want?
Get this. They will be marching…
“for affordable housing, better education, quality healthcare, fairness in our justice system, jobs, our children and families, our churches, a better future, Auckland … Aotearoa”.
These are pretty much what the Key-led Government has promised and is delivering, of course.
Just check out the the admirable Bill English’s latest Budget speech to see what’s doing.
But it seems the Key Government’s accomplishments and aspirations don’t gel with those of the Pasifika mob, who perhaps have spotted what Maori can screw out of the system as a consequence of being regarded as special.
Some Maori are dab hands at pleading poverty, although Alf observed that just one marae in Hastings has enough dosh to be able to offer to buy all 317 Housing New Zealand houses in the city’s poorest suburb.
While the houses are not on the market, Te Aranga Marae has asked the housing corporation to consider selling its entire Flaxmere stock.
But that’s by the way.
Today we are observing that Pasifika people are limbering up to make their claims for a bigger slice of the pie, although they are not pressing to be regarded as a special.
Rather, they are calling to be treated equally.
But give ’em an inch and…
Alf says this, because the latest rabble-rousing seems to have started from an Auckland Council-appointed Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel.
This outfit has become discontented, seeing itself as a “rubber stamp” for council policies.
It wants to create an independent Pacific forum.
Those who want to do this could do it, of course, by getting off their bums and setting it up.
All by themselves.
Once they get council help they can forget about the notion of it being “independent”.
Regardless of their logic, or lack of it, they are going to march.
They avoid the word “hikoi”, but it’s much the same thing.
“This is the first Pacific march. It’s historic. It’s a poor people’s march,” said the panel’s chairman, Auckland University chaplain Uesifili UNasa.
“We have forums that are organised by the state or by local government, but actually are to do things for them and to rubber-stamp their policies and their agendas.
“We are talking about a genuinely independent forum that will be able, with authority, to speak for us and advise on the issues and the challenges between the leaders of our governments and our community.”
So what’s stopping them?
Money, maybe. Including a bit of yours and mine.
Anyway, they have set up the “Advance Pasifika” Facebook page.
And as a measure of the forces they can muster, the Herald says this has signed up 455 people “going” to the event, with another 170 “maybe” and 4985 “invited”.
Another organiser is a youth consultant, a fellow called Efeso Collins, who expects thousands to turn up on the day, Saturday, June 16.
Marchers will walk from Albert Park down to Aotea Square, where Mayor Len Brown and Pacific Island Affairs Minister Hekia Parata will be invited to speak.
Hekia has been a dab hand at avoiding direct confrontations on the matter of school class sizes, so Alf wishes the Pasifika leaders luck on that score.
She specially won’t want to hear UNasa’s wailing about the education system failing Pacific children.
“Our children don’t get taught. The children of the poor are given secondary education at best. They are there to play first XV rugby and to go and dance in Polyfest,” he said.
Then comes the call for equal treatment.
The moderator of the Presbyterian Church’s northern presbytery, the Rev Fakaofo Kaio, said the march’s message was: “Please treat us equally.”
“My standing with it is like a voice for the voiceless, because there are a lot of Pacific Island people who won’t know what to do,” he said.
“They just keep quiet.”
Perhaps they keep quiet because they have nothing to kick up a fuss about.