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Eight Pacific voices likely in new Parliament

The votes in Aotearoa have been tallied, and it’s the emergence of two first-time politicians that has the attention of the Pacific, Lemauga Lydia Sosene and Angee Nicholas.

In total, there are eight Pacific representatives, with the majority in Labour, one in National and two Greens.

However, several of the victories are close-run results and there may be recounts on top of the counting of special votes that may overturn some results.

Angee Nicholas (National) won the Te Atatū electorate in the closest race.

In her first try, Nicholas has just got in, just scraping past Labour’s veteran MP Phil Twyford by 30 votes.

The Cook Islands-born 29-year-old will be fighting for her people where she was raised in West Auckland.

Previously, she was an in-house lawyer at the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

Against the blue wave around the country, Barbara Edmonds (Labour) won the Mana electorate by 6332 votes.

Edmonds first appeared in Parliament as the replacement for then Pacific Peoples minister Aupito William Sio, when he retired.

The Sāmoan will now be able to represent her area in Wellington.

On a social media post after the overall Labour loss, Edmonds gave her thanks to the people closest to her.

“To my wonderful little family, thank you all for your support, hugs, and giving mum the space to do what I needed to do.

I love you all.”

Carmel Sepuloni (Labour) won the Kelston electorate.

The now-former deputy prime minister will now be part of the opposition.

She won by 3,500 votes against National’s Ruby Schaumkel but that gap had was down considerably on the 2020 election where Sepuloni won by 15,000 votes.

Representing her Tongan and Sāmoan heritage, she is no rookie when it comes to Parliament as she has been a list MP for Labour since 2008.

Jenny Salesa (Labour) won Panmure - Ōtāhuhu.

For Pacific people, this is the seat the Pacific peoples had their eyes and ears on the most.

She was up against the popular former Auckland councillor who ran for mayor in 2022, Fa’anānā Efeso Collins (Greens).

She managed to get 10,000 plus votes, although this was an 8,000 vote drop from the last election.

She is of Tongan heritage and married to Auckland University of Technology vice-chancellor Damon Ieremia Salesa.

Lemauga Lydia Sosene (Labour) won the Māngere electorate.

Questions were asked during the campaign about whether Aupito William Sio’s successor would get the votes needed since Aupito had held Māngere since 2008.

However, Labour once again took the Māngere electorate, with Lemauga Sosene winning by 8,385 votes over National’s Rosemary Bourke.

She is a high chief of Sāmoa with the gifted name of Lemauga from her village. She has been praising people who turned out and voted: “Dear Māngere! and my amazing volunteer team, to our Labour supporters, thank you. Faafetai, Faafetai I le Atua (Thank you and praise be to the one most high).”

Lemauga is a mother of two boys and is known for her firm stand on stamping out vaping among rangatahi.

Tangi Utikeke (Labour) won the Palmerston North electorate.

Utikeke was going head to head with another Pacific politician, the Greens’ Teanau Tuiono.

Before becoming the MP for Palmerston North in 2020, Utikeke spent a decade on the city council, as the city’s first Pasifika-elected member.

In a social media post made this morning, Utikeke praised his region for the 13,000 votes: “A huge thanks to my massive team of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to deliver this local result.

“Congrats also to the other half of the ‘Palmy Cookie quinella’ Teanau Tuiono on his return to Parliament too.”

On the party lists, Fa’anānā Efeso Collin (Greens) is likely to have reached Parliament.

His Auckland mayoral candidacy campaign didn’t go as planned in 2022 but Fa’anānā begins a new chapter of his political career in Wellington.

He missed out on the Panmure-Ōtāhuhu electorate but got into government, ranked 11th on the Greens list. The Greens got more votes at this election than the last.

In an interview post-election with Pacific Media Networks editor Justin Latif, he addressed this result: “I think we are the party with the policies for South Auckland.

“As more people come to understand what we’re offering, they’re going to come away from Labour, we’ll get some from National and come over to the Greens.”

Teanau Tuiono is back in Parliament with the Greens.

Of both Māori (Ngāpuhi) and Cook Islands (Atiu) descent, Tuiono continues his advocacy for Pacific people, ranked at No. 5 on the Green Party list.

He was best known in this 2023 campaign for advertising his own policy for Samoans whose New Zealand citizenship was removed by a 1982 law to automatically be eligible for citizenship.

This will be Tuiono’s second term in Parliament.