Ar­rival in Mana like com­ing home

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Kris Faafoi says be­ing with Win­nie La­ban as he meets peo­ple in the Mana elec­torate is like be­ing in the pres­ence of a ‘‘rock star’’.

The Labour Party’s by­elec­tion can­di­date is cov­er­ing as much ground as pos­si­ble be­tween now and the polling date, ex­pected in Novem­ber.

Ms La­ban’s pop­u­lar­ity among her con­stituents is well-known, but Mr Faafoi says he has been blown away by the re­cep­tion they have re­ceived.

‘‘ Win­nie is a big part of Labour and Mana, and walk­ing around with her, it’s like trip­ping around with a rock star. Kids shout her name. It’s an hon­our to fol­low that and I hope to do her proud. She has given me so much guid­ance and I’ll be happy if I can be half the MP she has been.’’

The 34-year-old for­mer po­lit­i­cal jour­nal­ist and press sec­re­tary to Phil Goff in­sists the move he’s mak­ing is not a huge mindshift, say­ing peo­ple take a lot of dif­fer­ent paths into the po­lit­i­cal arena.

His has hap­pened a lot swifter than most, only in­ti­mat­ing to Labour lead­ers late last year that should a role be­come avail­able, he was in­ter­ested.

‘‘For me, it’s about pub­lic ser- vice and a real chance to re­con­nect with my own cul­ture.

‘‘I think Mana is a great place and hav­ing Toke­lauan par­ents, this is like a home­com­ing for me. The thing I love about Mana is the di­verse com­mu­nity, with Maori, Pa­cific and Euro­peans liv­ing close by. There are so many dif­fer­ent worlds com­ing to­gether.

‘‘But it still has is­sues that other places do, like hav­ing enough jobs. Peo­ple are strug­gling and I don’t think it’s go­ing to get any eas­ier.’’

Ms La­ban won Mana with a ma­jor­ity of more than 6000 votes in the 2008 gen­eral elec­tion and it is viewed as a safe Labour strong­hold.

Mr Faafoi, who says the se­lec­tion process was a tough one, is savvy enough to know vic­tory is not a fait ac­com­pli.

‘‘It was a huge re­lief [to win the can­di­dacy], any one of those in­ter­viewed would have done a great job. There are sys­tems in place and Win­nie has a mas­sive ma­jor­ity here, but we’re tak­ing noth­ing for granted and will put the hard yards in. I’ve now got as­pi­ra­tions to be the low­es­tranked mem­ber of the cau­cus and there’s a cliche about just go­ing and breath­ing through your nose in Par­lia­ment for a while. That’s me.’’

Christchurch-born and raised in a state house, Mr Faafoi is mar­ried with a young son. How­ever, he has fam­ily in Porirua and spent a num­ber of school hol­i­days in this part of the coun­try. Now liv­ing in Welling­ton, the plan is to buy a house some­where in the Mana elec­torate, likely Porirua, in the near fu­ture.

If he wins, he ac­knowl­edges it won’t be easy as an MP with a young fam­ily, but he will get sup­port from within the party and his wife is en­cour­ag­ing him to grasp this huge op­por­tu­nity.

With a work­ing life that has al­ways in­volved pol­i­tics, Mr Faafoi is con­fi­dent he has the en­ergy and knowl­edge of the is­sues to suc­ceed.

‘‘You just can’t for­get about peo­ple who need a hand up. Re­ward for hard work is some­thing that I hold dear and I’ve done the work to get here.’’

New blood: Kris Faafoi is de­ter­mined to meet as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble prior to the by-elec­tion. He and his Na­tional coun­ter­part, Hekia Parata, both at­tended the Hamp­shire St makeover last week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.