Willie Jackson: Why Labour for me and why now?

Willie Jackson is standing for Labour as a list MP at the election this year.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

Willie Jackson is standing for Labour as a list MP at the election this year.

OPINION: For nine years I have watched communities disintegrate while some in our beautiful country have advanced.

As leader of the Manukau Urban Maori Authority (MUMA) and National Urban Maori Authority, I see the impacts of inequality first hand. There is a ferocious and increasing level of poverty in Auckland. The urban Maori organisations of which I am involved, help feed, educate, clothe, accommodate, heal, rebuild and strengthen those who are most in need.

This year alone, MUMA has directly supported 3000 families in the poorest parts of our city. We provide help to solo mums and dads, the unemployed, the under educated, former prisoners, the invisible hungry kids who later in life turn on our communities, battered women, victims and even the perpetrators. I am proud of the work that we do for our community.

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There's no getting away from the fact that a lot of our work ironically has occurred under the National and Maori Party government. I make no apology for this because as the CEO I must advance the interests of my community with whomever is in government. The fact is however my organisation is underfunded in every area of Maori development. Whanau Ora is a classic example. This is a programme where we are making real change in peoples lives empowering whanau to take control of their families and we are getting outstanding results yet the funding is minimal and pales in comparison to what mainstream agencies receive. This is a message that Labour party leader Andrew Little gets and one of the primary reasons why now I am committed to working with Labour. Unlike the Maori party who seem besotted with the iwi leaders, tribal elite and National party, Labour is committed to the poorest New Zealanders who have missed out from the rock star economy.

Why else have I joined Labour? Because all my life my passion, vision and energy has been directed at supporting the poorest amongst us and in my view Labour is the only political party wherein real change is possible. I want to be part of that change. I want to see Maori, Pakeha, Pasifika and working class families who have been ignored and forgotten achieve the same possibilities and outcomes of those in the wealthier suburbs of New Zealand.

Fifty thousand homes for first time home buyers, safer and less crime ridden communities and public services that don't need an ambulance to constantly be waiting at the bottom of every cliff- that's Labour's promise and they are promises I believe in.

Like so many Kiwi's, I demand real change from our politicians, and if I am fortunate enough to be elected in September, it is a demand I won't rest on until it's achieved.

Thats why I have joined the Labour Party.

Willie Jackson will be discussing his decision to join Labour on the Manukau Courier Facebook page at 10am, Thursday. Email edmc@snl.co.nz if you'd like to pose him a question. 

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