Affordable and quality housing most pressing for Pacific voters – survey

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Housing, wages and health are the three top election issues for Pasifika, according to a new survey by a Pacific youth-led activist group.

A state house in Northcote

(File image). Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

‘Pacific Votes Count 2020: A Survey Report’ found that the political party seen as most likely to help Pacific people into warm, affordable homes would likely be rewarded with their votes.

Volunteers with the Pacific Climate Warriors (PCW) surveyed more than 500 Pacific respondents to gauge the most pressing issues ahead of the 2020 New Zealand General Election.

Report co-author and PCW co-ordinator Mary Moeono-Kolio said housing was the most important issue across the country, with 23.2 percent of respondents rating it number one.

However, Moeono-Kolio said for the Auckland region it peaked at 62 percent, with two-thirds of those respondents in South Auckland.

“But then also importantly, a lot of our communities who responded from South Auckland, it came across really strongly across all of the age groups that this is a concern that they can access affordable housing, warm housing.”

For many Pacific people, enduring long waiting lists for a reasonable quality rental was normal, Moeono-Kolio said. Expensive and overcrowded living was the reality, with 32.6 percent of people living with six or more people.

Fair wages and working conditions rated the second most pressing issue for Pacific people. Moeono-Kolio said it was important to note that while the survey was being conducted, the Temperzone industrial action was happening which may have influenced responses.

“Where quite a few of the Pacific workers had been laid off despite the company having accessed the wage subsidy,” she said.

“People were really worried about treatment at work [and] fair wages.”

Access to affordable healthcare was also important for Pacific people, rating third in the survey but an issue that had its importance amplified by Covid-19, according to Moeono-Kolio.

Pasifika experience a lack of equity in the health sector in normal times, she said, and were harder hit by the impact of cost which was relative to income.

“The affordability of GPs, you know. What might seem affordable, which is $17 to $25, isn’t necessarily affordable to a family of eight who are already struggling to put food on the table and get their kids to school.”

The survey found that despite public perception, Pacific young people are politically engaged and are acutely aware of the need of their communities. Among those surveyed, 80 percent said that they would definitely vote in this year’s General Election.

The top three issues for Covid-19 recovery were seen as job security, health and well-being and financial security.

Other key insights from the 541 people surveyed:

  • 62 percent were under the age of 30
  • 59.4 percent were from Auckland including 34 percent from South Auckland, followed by West Auckland at 14.6 percent
  • 27.5 percent were from Wellington, with Wellington City making up 11.7 percent and Lower Hutt at 6.8 percent
  • 77 percent or 375 people were born in New Zealand with 50 in Samoa, 21 in Fiji and 11 in Tonga
  • 52.8 percent were in full-time employment and 14 percent in part-time work
  • 32.4 percent were in full-time study or training, and 8.2 percent were in part-time study or training
  • 72.3 percent identified as Christian
  • 54 percent indicated they live with three to five people, 27.5 percent live with six to nine people

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