Category Archives: Labour NZ

Q & A with Willow-Jean Prime

PROFILE

Age 32 •Education Enrolled in PhD, LLM (First Class Hons), PG Dip Māori and Pacific Development, BA LLB conjoint •Ethnicity European/Māori •Hapu & Iwi Te Kapotai, Ngati Hine, Ngāpuhi •Interests family time. Community development, law, walking, light reading (if there is ever time), food (eating – not cooking!)

Willow-Jean Prime is the Labour Party electorate candidate for Northland. Prime ran in this seat in the 2014 General Election but it was subsequently won by National Party candidate, Mike Sabin. However, Prime is proud of her efforts to reduce National’s majority by over 2,000 votes and increase the Labour Party’s vote and the number of polling booths won by the Party.

Following Sabin’s sudden resignation as the subject of a police investigation, the seat was left vacant. Dedicated to providing a strong representative voice in her region, Prime won the candidacy selection within the Labour Party to stand again at the upcoming Northland by-election, and aims to do even better with polling results this time.

Amid a line-up of men, Prime is the only woman standing in the by-election and brings with her a robust education together with a grassroots commitment to the electorate.

NORTHLAND By-election

When did you first become interested in politics and why?

In 2013, at the age of 30, Prime became the youngest ever Councillor for the Far North District Council and polled the second highest number of votes. It was from here her political profile increased and that she was encouraged to stand in the 2014 General Election. However, her political fervour stems from a much earlier time:

“From quite a young age (as a child debating my Nana in her arm chair – which she encouraged), I felt like I developed skills that would lead me towards a future in advocacy.  Having completed my studies, I worked for several years as a solicitor in Wellington before returning to the North, where I established a consultancy business handling community projects and Treaty claims and served on the management committees of various organisations and local Trusts.  My work in the community brought increasing pressure for me to put my name forward for the Far North District Council – I did this as an independent.”

What inspired you to join the Labour Party?

Prime was inspired to join the Labour Party as she considers it the party where she would be most effective to address the issues facing Northland, and the party where the electorate would be better represented with a sitting MP.

 How would you describe the Northland electorate?

Beautiful. Big. Untapped. Facing many challenges that can only be resolved with central government support”

Where do you think the most action is needed in Northland?

Prime is focusing her campaign on three core issues: jobs, infrastructure and vibrant communities.

She observes that:

“Northland has some of the highest unemployment in the country and we need more government investment in regional development to create jobs and grow our businesses. Our roads are in a very poor state and need urgent attention. The government has cut $35 million from our roads and we need to restore that funding and begin urgent repairs and invest in new projects to make transport in the North faster, safer and more reliable”

In her experience as a District Councillor, Prime notes that she has seen “first-hand the importance of having a government that is going to back our communities”.  She vows to “fight for more government support for local groups and facilities, so that we can have a proper partnership. That is going to make Northland a better place to live, work and play”.

Why should Northland electors vote for you?

“I am the best person for the job. I am passionate about Northland. Northland is and has been neglected by the government for a very long time.  We need a strong, local voice to stand up for us. Currently, unemployment is too high, businesses are struggling and the roads are a mess. We need someone who can get things moving and I believe that is me”

What do you hope to achieve for Northland if elected as their MP?

“I want to be a strong voice that makes the government sit up and take notice of the needs of our people and our region. I want to help create a thriving future for Northland. I love Northland, it’s my home, I grew up here and I want to do my part to make it even better”

WOMEN’S Issues

Would you describe yourself as a feminist?

Prime explains that while she has not had a “major role in advocating on specific women’s issues” that she “grew up in a family surrounded by strong woman and the values of fairness and equality” were ingrained in her upbringing.  She elaborates that although her work has “primarily centred around community development generally” that her sister and Campaign Manager, Season-Mary Prime, has been an advocate for women’s rights, and that feminism resonates in both their thinking and actions and aligns very much with their values.

Do you have a position on abortion?

Prime is not anti-abortion and supports “proactive approaches to ensuring woman are informed and educated about sexual health and that resources and support are widely available for woman where required”.

Would you consider the services available to women who are victims of all forms of violence to be appropriately funded?

Prime considers that services available to women who are victims of violence are not adequately funded. She also states:

“It is my understanding that domestic violence and sexual violence are rampant and instances are increasing while other crimes are diminishing. I am told that service providers are overwhelmed with cases and that resources have been cut to community services and providers working in this area”.

Recently, a young Māori Trans Woman protested at the pride parade due to the transmisogyny of some organisations that were participating in the event. Trans women are routinely sent to men’s prisons because the system refuses to recognise their identity as women. What steps do you think could be taken to appropriately recognise the equal rights of Trans women with their cis women counterparts?

“I think this is a discussion which must be lead by Trans Women in order for any outcomes to be meaningful and effective”

MĀORI Issues

In light of the Waitangi Tribunal’s finding that (Northland) Māori did not cede sovereignty when signing Te Tiriti o Waitangi, what steps would you take to ensure that Labour appropriately recognised Māori sovereignty rights given they legislated against Māori with regard to the Foreshore and Seabed?

“As a starting point there must be a robust discussion and debate about our constitutional arrangements – the Tribunal’s report must necessarily inform that discussion.  To date, in any such government lead “constitutional reviews” our country has not had the benefit of having to hand, a comprehensive report which unequivocally addresses the meaning and effect of Te Tiriti.  It is my view that the report can help us progress the discussion concerning the place of Te Tiriti in our constitutional arrangements”

NATIONAL Issues

Labour has strongly opposed PM John Key’s recent announcement that the government will deploy troops to Iraq.

  • What ways do you think New Zealand could assist the Iraqi people and government without sending armed forces?

Prime insists that “any assistance provided [to the Iraqi people and government] should be with a UN mandate”. She considers that “National’s Iraq deployment risks lives” and that “the way to overcome ISIS is to rebuild Iraqi society through humanitarian intervention and economic reconstruction”. 

  • Should international relations be prioritised over the democratic choice of the people?

“No.  The Prime Minister has described deployment as “the price of being the club”. I do not agree that this is a reason to send troops into harm’s way”

Write a HAIKU!

Vote Willow-Jean Prime
Hardworking. Honest. Local.
Northland needs a voice.

You can see more of Willow-Jean Prime on:

EDITORS note:

Willow-Jean Prime will appeal to many women (young and old) and Māori in general as someone relevant to their world view and as a genuine role model. She has the capacity to provide the representative continuity needed in the Northland region. Additionally, she has the requisite educational background to guide her through the bureaucracy of Parliamentary representation and her Council experience will assist in keeping her connected to her local community and the issues affecting the region. While the most recent polls indicate that the Northland by-election may come down to a two horse race between Winston Peters (New Zealand First) and Mark Osborne (National Party), unlike those two candidates, Prime is a strong advocate for Māori and the vulnerable and has occupational longevity and continuity on her side together with a youthful compassion, empathy and a vision for the future of Northland as a resident and lifelong member of the community.

MP Maryan Street, Labour Party NZ

Profile:

Age: 59 Ethnicity/Nationality: Pākehā Highest Education: MPhil (First Class)

Background:

Maryan Street is a list MP for the Labour Party based in the Nelson region. Her official Labour Party profile page is available here. On her page, you will see that Maryan is gay, has a partner, and a daughter who contributed to her decision to become an MP in 2005.

While Maryan is the Labour spokesperson for State Services, Tertiary Education, Disarmament and Arms Control, Associate Foreign Affairs (ODA/Human Rights). She also has interests in equality for women, pay equity, eradication of poverty and gender-based violence, working conditions, peace and disarmament, and international affairs.

Maryan first became interested in politics when she started teaching in 1978 because she believed change was needed. She was motivated to join the Labour Party in 1984 following her work history and union participation and leadership. She had been meaning to join for a while at that time and was then approached and asked to join by another woman.

Maryan is a social democrat and was inspired in her political career by Helen Clark, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mary Robertson and Hillary Rodham Clinton. She also describes herself as a feminist and proudly announces that:

“I am old enough to remember the second wave of feminism and to have participated in it! I have always seen it as a movement for social justice – equality on all levels: economic, social, institutional, constitutional”

Women’s Issues

On women’s reproductive rights 

Maryan is prochoice and considers that:

“access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to safe abortion, are fundamental to women’s equality. If we can’t plan when and how often to have children, we can’t ever have equality. I support this kaupapa through the NZ Parliamentarians group on Population Development (NZPPD), of which I am Vice-Chairperson”

On women’s economic contributions (other than paid work)

Maryan considers that women’s contributions to the economy include the:

“Social and economic stability through the maintenance of families and child care – women still remain the primary caregivers predominantly”

And also that the voluntary sector is dominated by women.

On wage disparity

She is also concerned about wage disparity in NZ and considers one approach to help amend this deficiency is to re-establish the Pay Equity Commission and ‘get to the bottom of the disparities and effect methods of changing them’.

On support services for women

Maryan believes that the current support systems we have in place to assist all women who: are solo or first time mothers, victims of crime, imprisoned, struggling with addiction, suffer from mental health and/or chronic illness or physical  disabilities are inadequate and that:

“more is always required in each of these areas and it needs to be better targeted and more appropriately applied”

General Q & A:

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

Brevity.

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“People not being punctual.”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

Security – of food supply, of safe food, of women from gender-based violence both in war and in peace, of water, from escalating nuclear tensions, from war.”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“A trip to Europe to my daughter – with me!”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“My daughter”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t:

Yesterday – but there is too much to do!”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

Restoration of the environment.”

You can see more of Marayan on: 

Facebook:  Maryan Street

Twitter:   @MaryanStreetMP 

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections. 

Arena Williams, Labour Party NZ

Photograph

Arena Williams and Labours candidate for Rotorua Tamati Coffey at the Rotorua local electorate committee AGM. [image sourced from Arena’s public Candidate Facebook page – see link at end of post]

Age: 24 Ethnicity: Māori Religion: Haahi Ringatu Highest Education: Bcom/LLB

Arena Williams is standing for the first time as the newly elected Hunua candidate for the Labour Party. Her interests include Youth Education, Training, and Work. Arena’s official Labour Party page is available here. On her page, you will see that she proposes to stand for “jobs, homes and opportunity” and considers that “change starts with talking to people”.

Background:

Arena grew up in a politically active household. She describes her parents as “Labour people who live their Labour values by serving their communities”, her mother as a GP in Papakura and her father a teacher before becoming a journalist and as such considers that community ethic to be in her blood.

Arena joined the Labour Party in 2005 after the “foreshore and seabed raruraru“. She explains that:

“I saw leaders who I respected turning their back on a group of their loyal supporters, and I felt ashamed of that – but I wouldn’t be a Labour person if I thought the way to deal with that was to throw stones from the outside. I started by volunteering for Māori MPs who worked hard and stood up. I then got involved with Young Labour and with Policy Council, and put in the work so that we don’t go doing something like that again”

Arena describes her personal political ideology as adherent to the values of freedom and choice. In particular:

“the kind of freedom that comes with the security of a good education, a roof over your head and the ability to get decent work”.

She admires thinkers like John Rawls and David Harvey, but does not subscribe to their ideals as a complete prescription for her views.  Arena extols her family as the most influential people on her political thinking, explaining that:

“My father is a deeply spiritual and peaceful person, and it is his influence that makes me think before I react to political ideas. My mother has been a fiery activist in her time, for Women’s Lib and Māori rights, and I’ve learnt a lot from her”

On Women’s Issues

Arena also subscribes to feminism, insisting that:

“Everyone who wants a system that doesn’t disadvantage people just because they don’t identify as men should own the word feminist

On reproductive rights of women

Arena is pro-choice and considers that abortion:

“should be a personal decision for women to make for their physical and mental health, supported by their doctor”

She remarks that most people would be surprised to learn that abortion is a criminal offence in New Zealand.

Arena would like to see more effort in “listening to young women who have been through abortions about the kind of support they receive” because she recognises and empathises that abortion is “a hard thing, but when it’s a criminal offence, there’s so much hurt and stigma that helps no one”.

Arena is involved in ongoing discussions within the women’s sector of the Labour movement, including Young Labour, about  the kind of reform those women would want their party to champion. She expresses her commitment to doing everything she can to continue that conversation and to work toward developing a solution that works for young women.

On Womens Economic Contributions

Arena claims that:

“women’s participation at all levels of decision making isn’t a fluffy add on – business has been realising the commercial benefit of diversity yet we lag behind for women’s representation in governance and in Parliament”

In respect of unpaid work, she considers that “entitlements to paid parental leave at the current level” do not “reflect the societal benefit of parents, mostly mothers, spending time with their young children and preparing them for ECE then school”.

Arena thinks that “extending paid parental leave will go a long way to addressing the deficit”.

On Wage Disparity

Arena considers there to be “deep structural inequalities that stand in the way of success for working women”. She explains by example that in the industry she works in, “women are paid around $18 less per hour” than her male colleagues on average and thinks its “simply unacceptable”.

To address the wage disparity issue, Arena would like to see more support for flexible working arrangements in the professional sector. She thinks that industry should lead on that, and if they don’t then central government has a responsibility to step in.  She maintains that:

 “government has a role in promoting women’s involvement on corporate boards, as a way of changing organisational culture which tacitly accepts this kind of discrimination”

On Support Services for Women

Arena considers that support services for women are under a “constant squeeze” because of the “competitive funding environment”. In her experience with Student Unions, first as Auckland President and later the national Women’s Rights Officer, she explains that she was “constantly grateful for the NGOs and community groups who could be called on to support women students in need” despite the obstacles to accessing funding.

Arena is particularly interested in supporting women in education. In her view, it is “a fundamental part of freedom for women”. Arena would like to see the student loan repayment scheme remodelled because she thinks that currently it unfairly disadvantages women who earn less on average and subsequently take longer to repay their loans. She believes that cuts to the tertiary training allowance have been instrumental in limiting the ability of many mothers to access tertiary education to build on their life experience and feels strongly that access to tertiary education is essential to empowering women of all ages.

General Q & A

What is the one skill you wish you had (that you don’t already)?

“I wish I could think in te reo Māori. I think I have a reasonable vocabulary and can follow Māori TV, but when it comes to forming an answer to a question, I have to switch to English”

In everyday life, what is your pet peeve?

“Wasting food. Wasting anything!”

What do think is the biggest problem facing the world right now?

“Inequality”

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

“Two pieces of pounamu to my friends who got married this year and moved to Melbourne. The pieces will always be an anchor for them, to keep a little bit of them in New Zealand. They’ll have to come back!”

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

“My grandmother left me her tea cup collection when she passed away. It’s a jumbled set of bits and bobs she cobbled together during her travels. I can’t bring myself to use them, but every time I see them I’m reminded of this fierce wahine toa who was so ahead of her time and the adventures she had.”

Describe a time when you wanted to quit, but you didn’t.

“During my time as president at the Auckland students’ association there were plenty of times I wanted to quit. The hardest battles are the ones fought behind your own lines. I finished my term with a result I’m proud of, but I’m most proud of the people I worked with then who’ve stepped up since and become wonderful leaders for an organisation I care deeply about.”

If you could have a special power/magic what would it be and why?

“I’d like to be able to stop time. I’d get 8 hours sleep and be able to say ‘yes’ to requests from the people I care about!”

You can see more of Arena on:

Facebook: Arena Williams – Labour’s candidate for Hunua

Twitter: @arenaa

YouTube: Arena Williams for Hunua

Please check the About page if you are interested in the question selections.