Green Party co-leader shows support for South Auckland initiatives

October 13, 2020

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson (middle) with members of the Otara Kai Village.

By Elijah Fa'afiu - elijah.fa'

South Auckland community groups and businesses have been paid a visit by Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson over the past couple of days.

The candidate for the Tamaki Makaurau electorate appeared on a rainy Tuesday morning at the Otara Kai Village, a resident-led initiative that aims to bring the community together through food and culture.

For Otara Kai Village project lead Candice Luke, the visit from the Greens co-leader was a welcome surprise.

“I’m a Greenie myself, so I’ve been waiting for this. It’s been awesome to see her. I wasn’t expecting it and it’s raining and there’s not much going on here but on a day like this, it really brightened up our day.”

A number of volunteers at the Otara Kai Village were present and Luke says they come from a variety of backgrounds.

“They’re from various areas. We’ve got high school kids, we’ve got community groups and we’ve got locals that just want to help out and do better within the community to see the community thrive.”

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson says she wants to support Pacific and Maori-led local and small businesses.

“The solution to healing the world is to move towards a model of the smaller, local businesses and part of the kai enterprise that we were hearing about and learning about was feeding the community and that’s a big part of the political mahi that I do, so I’m just here to support Maori and Pacific neighbourhoods.”

Davidson says the recent lockdown showed there needs to be a shift in economic models so that the wealth circulates in local communities through small businesses.

“We’ve been relying on an economic model that exploits people and exploits our environment and our planet, but it funnels the wealth and the power into the hands of a few.

“What I want to see and what will keep our communities thriving are these local businesses and especially, enterprises run by Maori and Pacific people, which is about actually keeping the resources in our neighbourhoods and our communities and moving away from this model which doesn’t pay our workers enough.”

Marama Davidson buying items from the Otara Kai Village gift shop.

Having grown up in South Auckland, Davidson says she wants the next government to support local solutions in her area.    

“It is our local community people who have the solutions to the big challenges, whether that’s making sure everyone’s taken care of, whether it’s protecting our waterways and our rivers and our urban streams.

“Otara is my hood, we’re five generations of belonging to this place and I remember walking to this market as a kid with my nana across the streams here and I understand there’s been some work from the local community to try and restore our stream.

“These are the things that I want to continue to support but the connection to government is, what is our responsibility to support these local solutions and to stop making laws that create further harm and an example of that is how our income support has kept income levels and income support levels so low they are not able to be lived on.”

Yesterday, the Greens co-leader visited beauty and jewellery store Panikeke run by Keith Toma.

“This is our local neighbourhood businesses, our innovation and the fact that our Maori and Pacific business people are so innovative and so he’s pulled together a beautiful shop and I managed to pick up, I’m actually wearing his earrings right now, so it's a lovely example of Pacific business,” says Davidson.

The rest of the afternoon saw Davidson visit the Papatoetoe Food Hub and the Vunilagi Vou Gallery in Papatoetoe.

Before her visit to the gallery, Davidson said she was looking forward to seeing the work of Ema Tavola.

“I’ve been a long time supporter of Ema and her mahi as she’s not just an incredible artist and curator, but she’s been a grassroots campaigner across a broad range of Maori and Pacific issues.

“They really are leaders that we need to support and uplift more and more and as a Maori woman in politics that’s a responsibility for me.”

Marama Davidson (middle) and OKV project lead Candice Luke (second from right) with volunteers from the Otara Kai Village.