Fourteen Samoans elected to Auckland Council and Boards

Samoan councillors Josephine Bartley, Alf Filipaina and Fa’anana Efeso Collins will be continuing on in the Auckland Council after local elections on Saturday.

Ms. Bartley will continue as Councillor of Maungakiekie-Tamaki Ward, winning her spot back for another term.

She was the first Pacific Woman elected to Auckland’s council in February 2018 in a by-election, after serving on her local board for seven years. Ms. Bartley is from Tapatapao and Simamonga. She said she did not expect to get re-elected after her boundaries were changed to include wealthier parts of Auckland.

“The richer area of Auckland who don’t normally vote labour, so I am really surprised to get in,” she said.

“It’s really cool to be a Samoan and to win in Central Auckland, I don’t think we have ever had that except for Lotu Iiga.”

She said she is looking forward to a full three year term following a brief 18 months.

“I would like the opportunity to show more leadership around the council table,” Ms. Bartley said.

Fa’anana, who is from Satufia in Savaii will lead Manukau Ward, joined by Mr. Filipaina. The two were the only Pacific candidates elected in 2017’s elections. 

Mr. Filipaina, who has run in seven elections to date said he never takes results for granted.

“You just don’t know, even though there were three of us, you just can’t take it for granted.

“I am just so glad that I am there.”

He said he is passionate about not only representing his ward but also the region and its issues.

“We have $3.3 billion dollars a year budget, that is why it is important,” he said.

In Mangere-Otahuhu, funeral director and Manusina squad manager Tauanu’u Nick Bakulich, Lemauga Lydia Sosense and Walter Togiamua have kept their seats on the board and are being joined by newcomers Anae Dr Neru Leavasa and Harry Fatu Toleafoa.

Anae is a practicing doctor at Baderdriver Doctors in Auckland. He has said he will continue his practice if elected.

Mr. Toleafoa, from Vaigalu, Lepa and Vaie’e, Safata is a lawyer working in the Mangere Community Law Centre.

The Otara subdivision of the Otara Papatoetoe local board will see law lecturer Lotu Fuli and Apulu Reece Autagavaia staying on another term. Apulu also stood for Counties Manakau District Health Board, and results will be declared after all the councils have been finalised.

Felicity-Jane Auva’a and former All Black Keven Mealamu are sitting on the Papakura Local Board.

Actor Fasitua Amosa and Ulalemamae Te’eva Matafai, who has organised Miss Samoa New Zealand were voted to sit on the Whau local board.

Ms. Bartley said the swell of Samoan’s on the local boards shows the population are active in their elections. 

“The fact that we have three Samoan’s that govern Auckland, that tells me our Samoan community are mobilised, and we get in there and get involved.

“That is how you influence decision making, is to be a decision maker.

“Our parents made the big move from Samoa to a new country and started a new life and we owe it to them to do the best we can for ourselves and for our communities. 

Having Samoan representation and being at the table has always been important to Mr. Filipaina, he said.

“When we got onto Auckland Council I think there were only two [Maori], myself and another councillor from Franklin, and the only Samoan’s were myself and Arthur Anae.

“It is a big deal for me because it’s having our community represented there. The more the merrier.”

 He said the number of Samoans elected this year shows local boards are working hard to increase representation, and that Aucklanders’ are recognising how important a diverse council is.

“People are realising that Auckland is not made up of the people that have represented the region, which is really not a reflection of our demographics, that’s the key thing for me,” he said.

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