The only Pacific MP in New Zealand’s National Party has her eye on the Pacific peoples’ portfolio.
“I want to make sure that I deliver,” 29-year-old Angee Nicholas said.
“Being a really competent first time MP is the focus for me,” she said.
The National Party will form the next government, but the exact structure is unknown until special votes come in.
Special votes and final results will be announced on November third.
“I would love to obviously, maybe [be] Pacific people spokesperson for that because obviously, I’m Pacific,” Nicholas said.
National’s Pacific peoples’ spokesperson is currently Dr Shane Reti, who is Māori.
For Nicholas, the possibility of taking on that portfolio is premature given negotiations are ongoing.
But if she was afforded the opportunity she said it would be more than about being Pasifika.
She wants to use her journey, being a Pacific woman growing up in New Zealand to make sure children in Pacific communities have opportunities and can get ahead.
Nicholas was born in the Cook Islands and moved to New Zealand with her family around 20 years ago.
“The [election] journey itself has been a big one for us as a family,” Nicholas said.
The journey starts with her parents, who are from two different islands, Rarotonga and Mangaia.
“Neither of them [parents] finished high school,” she said.
As a young girl, she settled into school in West Auckland.
Now she is in line to be the next Te Atatū MP but may lose her seat after special votes come in.
“That was a pretty big dream accomplished, when we think about where we came from,” she said.
Before anything else she said she wants to make sure she delivers for her community and will wait for special votes to be counted before sticking her hand up for any portfolios.
“Obviously, I would love to still be here after special votes are counted,” Nicholas said.
“But the focus is really to try and get everyone moving ahead”.
Nicholas believes Pacific representation in government is important.
“For Pacific communities to see someone who looks like them in Parliament,” Nicholas said.
“But we are part of a team”.
The leader of National and incoming Prime Minister of New Zealand admits there is still work to do on the diversity front in his caucus.
Christopher Luxon has acknowledged the importance of diversity.
Meanwhile, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand is gearing up for battle on the opposition benches.
Greens MP Teanau Tuiono said there are nowhere near enough Pasifika voices in the next government, with just one expected at this stage.
The Greens helped form the previous Ardern government in 2020, but they failed to secure a majority this time round.
Tuiono, who is from Atiu in the Cooks and Ngāpuhi in Aotearoa, is fuming over what he calls race-baiting politics by the incoming government.
The minor party that is set to help form the government, the ACT Party, disagrees.
ACT’s Karen Chhour said wanting to have a conversation about making sure that every New Zealander has the same equal rights and duties is not race-baiting.
“I believe that if you call wanting to have a conversation about making sure that every New Zealander has the same equal rights and duties, and everyone New Zealand understands what those are in regards to the treaty, if you want to call that race baiting? Well, that’s your issue,” Chhour said.
She said she has spent three years in opposition advocating for young people that do not have a great start in life.
“I’ll be able to actually advocate for some real change going forward when it comes to those young people who may need a little bit of extra support, or a little bit of extra care in their life,” she said.
There are currently no Pasifika MPs on ACT’s list.
“We had some on the list, but unfortunately, they didn’t make it through,” she said.
On the issue of the Ministry of Pacific People’s (MPP), ACT still stands firm in wanting to scrap it, even though National has made it clear it does not.
“There’s a whole lot of ministries that we’ve talked about wanting to dissolve, and fold back into other ministries,” Chhour said.
“We’d like that money to be closer to the ground, where people can actually make a real difference with that money”.
She would not reveal whether or not it would be a bottom line in negotiations as special votes have not been counted yet.
Greens Teanau Tuiono is ‘very concerned’ about the trajectory of ACT as a whole.
“In terms of their assault on the Ministry for Pacific People,” he said.
He said Instead of having a ‘myopic, narrow minded way of looking at looking at what New Zealand could be, we should actually be focusing on what Aotearoa can be.
“That is all about recognizing those connections within the Pacific and it’s a rich and beautiful thing,” Tuiono said.
“ACT needs to sort itself out,” he said.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS