The Battle of Mana

Commentary: Joe Carolan

In the working class streets of Porirua, hundreds of workers and residents are already backing the demands raised by Matt McCarten’s campaign for tax justice, full employment and a living wage.

Dino, a member for MUNZ living in Calliope Crescent, has been on the picket lines in Napier in 2007 defending jobs and conditions. “There’s no excuse for unemployment in this country- there’s heaps of work that needs doing round here- look at the state of disrepair of some of the state houses. None of the major parties have any solutions for the blight of unemployment- that’s why Matt’s demand for 3000 jobs in Mana is electric. I’m definitely thinking of switching from Labour on this one”.

Jennie from Castor Crescent is a young Maori woman who has finished a course in childcare, but can’t find any work. “There’s a lot of young working mothers here stretched trying to manage jobs and family at the same time. If there were crèches and childcare here in the community, not only would it be a big help for these mums, but it would create hundreds of jobs for childcare workers like me. It’s impossible to survive on benefits- I’m voting for Matt.”

Grandfather Sonny invited campaigners into his home to sit down with his sons. “I’ve supported the unions all my life. But the rot started in Labour with that Roger Douglas. Lange and his mob brought in GST first- I’ve never forgotten that. It’s good to now see a union man like Matt saying we should get rid of it completely. That will help working people buy more food for their kids.”

Lucas from Waihora Crescent is sick of low pay in New Zealand. “I’m already voting for Matt, bro. Raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour is a great idea- people need enough to live on, otherwise everyone is going to end up moving to Australia. It’s great to see a staunch candidate sticking up for us at last.”

Caroline and her partner are currently living in a garage in Champion Street. They’re on the waiting list for a state house. Meanwhile, there are over 30 empty houses in Cannon’s Creek counted by door knockers. Without families living in these houses, they are broken into, the windows are smashed, the copper fittings in the plumbing are ripped out and the walls kicked in. Activists are going to house Caroline’s family in one house, and set up a community crèche in another, and local unemployed electricians and carpenters are going to repair the damage. The People’s House will create an example of what full employment serving the community in Mana could look like.

There’s a real battle on in Mana over the next two weeks. A big vote for Matt will be a message to the big parties that working class people will no longer accept low pay, unfair taxes, poverty and homelessness. Now’s the time for all activists, union members and socialists to come and help us.


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