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 Te Ururoa Flavell, co-leader of the Māori Party. Here's his pitch to you.
Give us the elevator pitch: Why should young women vote for you?
Because I’m a family man, my mum and my kuia were hugely influential in my life and I feel like it is my responsibility to leave a better world behind for my three daughters and mokopuna. To put food on the table and make housing more accessible for everyone.
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 been advocates for pay equity. As a party, we influenced the increase of paid parental leave from 12 to 18 weeks.
How will you combat violence against women?
I’m a White Ribbon Ambassador. I recently rode along with the Police in Christchurch where we attended multiple domestic violence call outs and it reaffirmed for me that a whole-of-government approach to family violence is vital but that the government doesn’t have all the answers. I firmly believe that it will take a whole of society approach to change our attitudes and to make Aotearoa violence free. I feel very passionately about ending family violence through better education, preventative measures, and more whanau-centred, kaupapa Māori based initiatives.
What will you do to reduce rates of sexual violence and improve the way that the justice system deals with crimes of sexual violence?
The Māori Party has always believed that if we, as a nation, are truly committed to whānau ora, we must address the social hazards. We have supported Jan Logie’s Domestic Violence Victims Protection Bill that allowed for victims of violence to take 10 days leave. We also supported the overhaul of the Family Violence Act and we believe that funding to support victims of sexual violence needs to make its way more quickly to the victims of sexual violence, so they can heal.
Where do you stand on abortion legislation? Would you like to see it changed? If so, what changes would you make?
We believe the current law in relation to abortion needs to be reviewed. There are a range of issues concerning abortion laws, including cultural issues. We recognise there is a conversation to be had as a nation about the extent to which abortion should be treated as a crime or a health issue. We welcome the debate and the need for a rethink of the current law.
How will you ensure that New Zealand’s environment is protected for future generations?
The Māori Party has a commitment to ensuring Aotearoa’s natural resources and environment is healthy for everyone. We also support the health and wellbeing of our people and this requires that environmental degradation is addressed. We recognise the urgency in establishing alternative sources of energy that are environmentally friendly and do not depend on fossil fuels. We support the reduction of emission targets as identified at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, 2015.
In your opinion, what is the role of te Tiriti o Waitangi in modern-day Aotearoa?
The Māori Party believes that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is a living document, not just something to be taught in a history class. The undertakings of Te Tiriti o Waitangi were farsighted, and continue to tell us how to build an orderly, prosperous and united Aotearoa.
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 health-care, 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