Mana MP Kris Faafoi has spoken out in support of Grant Roberston.
Mana MP Kris Faafoi has spoken out about his support for Grant Robertson to be leader of the Labour Party.
"Over the past few weeks, there has been quite a bit of commentary about Grant Robertson's sexuality. In a number of cases, the Pacific Island community has been used as a vehicle to make a point. Quite bluntly, I find that offensive.
"I was brought up in a traditional Pacific household. My parents expected their children to foot it with others on an equal basis. And to do that we had to treat others as equals. That wasn't easy as a youngster. It was a time when mocking things as "gay" was generally a good laugh. But that was not the "done" thing in the Faafoi house, primarily because of the work of my late father Amosa on the Pacific Island AIDS Trust in the late 80s and early 90s.
"At a time when AIDS was a "toxic" subject, here was my father crusading for the rights of Pacific gay people to be treated and "treated" fairly if they had become HIV positive.
"I believe all Pacific Islanders believe it's the fair and right thing that everyone be treated equally. It's in our DNA. As a proud Pacific Islander, I'd like to put it on the record that I am proud that I am supporting Grant.
"Let's be clear. I am respectful of all differing views. But I am going to stick up for what I fundamentally believe. Grant has my support not just because he is the best person for the job, but also because I believe he has the strength of character to get the job done.
"He is proud he is gay. And so he should be. Just as I am proud that I am Tokelauan.
"To me, core to being Pacific are the values of family, love, inclusion, equality, respect, and having pride in who you are. I know Grant well; he embodies that every day; it's what will make him a great leader.
"The picture being painted that all Pacific people are opposed to Grant being our leader because he is gay doesn't afford the level of sophistication our people possess. Pacific people are hungry for success. They, like all Kiwis, want the best for their families. They want action on jobs, housing, education, health and strengthening their individual cultures.
"I strongly believe for our Pacific communities to succeed, they need a strong Labour Party, one that is united, focussed and will think and act differently about our hopes and aspirations. They want someone to lead our party who will do that for them and their families.
"I, for one, am going to listen to the message the voters gave us on election night. They want something different from Labour. To win in 2017, Labour needs a new generation of leadership."
Kris Faafoi is Labour MP for Mana and spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs