This year, on September 23, New Zealand will vote on who gets to lead the country for the next three years. We've watched the unbelievable political events in the US and the UK, and now it's our turn. If there's anything that we can take from the wild currents of world politics it's that young people have to get out there and vote. Because the politicians elected to Parliament are the ones who will make important decisions about our future. But in amongst the spin and the bluster, it can be hard to know exactly who to vote for. Who stands for what? Who stands against what? Who cares about the issues that are important to you?
We get it.
So, in the lead-up to the election, Villainesse has reached out to politicians from all of the parties currently in Parliament, asking them why they think they deserve the vote of young women. In our 2017 election series, 'The Pitch', we've asked politicians to make their case to you so that when you go to the ballot box you'll know exactly where they stand.
Next in the series, we have Marama Fox, co-leader of the Māori Party. Here's her pitch to you.
Give us the elevator pitch: Why should young women vote for you?
Because I have been an advocate for women’s rights and equality since growing up in Christchurch with a solo mum, at an all-girls school, and three older sisters who believed they could do anything!
If you are elected, what - if anything - will you do to close the gender pay gap?
The Māori Party believes if you do equal work, you should absolutely earn equal pay. For Māori women, the disparity is even wider than for their Pākehā counterparts. The imbalance of pay is unacceptable and the Māori Party will continue to advocate for equal pay for all, regardless of age, gender, or race.
What economic benefits will you deliver for young women?
We have extended the application of paid parental leave to women who work part time, and we have had whāngai recognised in the law for parental leave equity. Recognising the role of motherhood as a transferable set of skills to enhance your career path, that should be viewed as an asset.
How will you combat violence against women (including domestic violence)?
The Māori Party acknowledge that there is an increasing need for accessible, high quality services for women and whānau. Recently, we announced $9m in the Budget package to support facilitators to work with whānau to end violence in their homes. Small kindnesses from all of us matter. It’s about Whānau Ora. Violence of any form is never okay.
What will you do to reduce rates of sexual violence and improve the way that the justice system deals with crimes of sexual violence?
We supported the Women’s Refuge with an upgrade of facilities and our Whānau Ora commissioning agents to continue their work with whānau. Additionally, we are working with gangs and their wives to address family violence and eliminate harmful addictions that perpetuate such crimes. No violence is ever okay.
Where do you stand on abortion legislation? Would you like to see it changed? If so, what changes would you make?
We believe that in matters pertaining to life and death, decisions are best made in the context of Whānau Ora – the whānau determining the best outcomes for their whānau. We place high value on whakapapa – the sacred genealogical lines of one’s descent. As Māori, we need to be confident that the respect we have for whakapapa, for whanaungatanga, and for tikanga are fully understood by ourselves and others.
How will you ensure that New Zealand’s environment is protected for future generations?
The Māori Party acknowledges that there is no single mitigation pathway for Aotearoa and new market and mitigation opportunities will emerge over time. We welcome the Vivid report which highlights afforestation as one way forward. We want to address the challenges of low-emission transition so that we can save Aotearoa and indeed our world for ourselves and more importantly, for future generations
Some of our key policies are to develop grants to fund mentors to support whānau to develop alternative energy sources, champion solar panels for government agencies, hospitals and schools, subsidise solar heating and expansion of energy hubs for rural communities, establish whānau friendly cities encouraging young people to have a voice in the design and planning of their cities starting with green spaces in urban cities, create more Kura Taiaō and enviro-schools, and to support a proposal that will see the planting of at least 100,000 hectares of new forests over the next 10 years.
In your opinion, what is the role of te Tiriti o Waitangi in modern-day Aotearoa?
People who have knowledge of their history are much more likely to benefit from our increasingly diverse nation. For us Te Tiriti o Waitangi remains a covenant of utmost meaning. Only if it is honoured will mana be restored, and whānau able to participate fully and willingly in the nation. We advocate that all legislation be measured against te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Are you concerned about rising levels of inequality in New Zealand? If so, what would you do to close the gap?
The Māori Party is born of the dreams and aspirations of tāngata whenua to achieve self-determination for whānau, hapū and iwi within their own land. The effects of disparity are felt more so by Māori and Pacific than others, and we are at the bottom of every statistic there is. We will continue to tackle the barriers to employment, increase innovative and efficient healthcare, provide more opportunities for education and sustainable employment, and enable better accessibility to housing for those who need it most.
Do you think that New Zealand’s sexuality education system is working? If not, what would you do to change it?
The Māori Party does not have an official policy on sexuality education in schools but we believe it should be the right of whānau to decide whether their child/children should participate in such classes and to what extent.
What will you do to combat New Zealand’s high rate of youth suicide?
We have secured $8m over four years for Oranga Rangatahi. We had previously secured $2.1m in Budget 2015 which funds 36 different organisations in our communities. The initiatives are rangatahi driven, kaupapa Māori models, and specific support is provided for takatāpui.Support Villainesse