Village Campaigning Niue Style
Aliutu Alofi South
It was going to be an opportunity for candidates on the Common Roll to tell the people of Alofi South – which just happens to be biggest village electorate on the island – their reason for standing in the elections and what they hope to take to the Assembly. What transpired was a two-minute presentation with most struggling to present a coherent policy statement. Alofi South Village Council Chairman Robin Hekau had set the limit at two minutes and no more.
|Aliutu Hall. Premier Sir Toke and Lady Talagi with backs to the camera|
The village candidates consisting of the sitting member Dalton Tagelagi and challenger Laga Lavini were first given the opportunity to present their case. Tagelagi spoke of his record and what he has been able to achieve for the island and for the village. He touched on his responsibilities as a Minister of the Crown and the need to fulfil the island’s commitment to the region and on the international scene which sometimes meant being away from the island. Tagelagi told his people that having served a term as a cabinet minister he is now in the best position ever to serve the people.
Laga Lavini who challenged Tagelagi in the last election is the only other candidate this time around. Lavini almost had a shopping list of what he would like to see for the village ranging from improving the roads to changing financial regulations to make it a little easier on the private sector.
And then it was the turn of the Common Roll candidates. Council Chairman Robin Hekau gave each candidate two minutes to tell the meeting three things: why they are standing, what do they want to do when they get there and finally how are they going to do it once they are there.
Igasia Mokole, not long retired from being a minister of the Ekalesia church in Hakupu, spent most of his two minutes giving an outline of his experience working in New Zealand in the Pacific Islands Ministry and as a social worker. He was also a member of the NZ Labour Party. He told the gathering that his commitment is to work for the good of the community and to ensure that all get a fair deal.
Norman Mitimeti kept his pitch short and to the point. He told the residents of Alofi South that he has been around them for a long time and added, “You know me, you know what I can do. So now it’s all over to you”.
Lagisia Manttan chose to be just a brief and repeated his campaign slogan of Trust and Honesty and then proceed to hand out his pamphlets.
Merry Anno Iakopo would like to see the child allowance increase so that parents can afford, amongst other things, school supplies. She would like to see the grant from government to help small businesses be increased from the current $4,000 to $10,000. She called for the revival of the trade apprenticeship training scheme.
Dessyo Sioneholo who has been a resident of Alofi Toga for 10 years said that while there are many good developments thus far on the island, there are still more that can be done. A reliable electricity supply and better communications are areas he identified as of special interest.
Ida Hekesi chose to highlight education as her focus with more attention being paid to science, research and technology. She also said that the private sector is facing a shortage of workers while there is a big pool in the public sector and suggested that there should be some mobility between the two.
Sisilia Talagi used her two minutes to alert the gathering to the problem of not enough people to do the work required of a modern micro-state. According to Mrs Talagi the island is heading for a human resource crisis – laws and regulations are being passed but without the human resources required to make them effective.
|First left O’love Jacobsen, third is Ida Talagi and fifth Des Sioneholo|
Joan Viliamu spent her two minutes pushing for more women in the Assembly, telling the meeting that their time has come.
It was then over to the two heavy-weights in the room, O’love Jacobsen and Sir Toke Talagi.
That left Sir Toke. Sensing the mood of the people of Alofi South, he chose to concentrate on the one single issue he knows he will score highly. He reminded the meeting that he is in the Assembly to look after the people. He said he has done just that. The pension for old folks he told them has increased to $390 a fortnight and added that he would like to increase it more to $500. He admits that he doesn’t have the resources just yet but that he has a group of people working for him who are very good at finding money, a possible reference to his special appointee Wayne Harris-Daw. He also promised that when resources become available, he will increase the pay packets of public servants to the equivalent of 80% of the pay scale of the New Zealand public service.
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