When voting closes on October 14, one of these four candidates could be Māngere's next electorate MP, following Aupito William Sio’s retirement announcement earlier this year after a 15-year career in Parliament.
They are, in alphabetical order, Rosemary Bourke, Lemauga Lydia Sosene, Brooke Pao Stanley and Peter Sykes. While others are sure to enter the race, these four have declared their intentions early, and I caught up with each of them in person or over email.
National Party Candidate
Due to how busy Rosemary has been with her job, family and campaigning, we weren’t able to meet, so she provided her answers via email.
The mother of four, who works full time in warehousing and is of Tongan, Irish and Samoan descent, says her motivation to stand came from wanting “be part of the solution” and to do her “best for the people”.
Bourke’s parents moved to New Zealand in the 1960s from Tonga and Samoa and their courage inspires her to this day.
“Their faith, hard work, and strength through challenges guided them and our family. "This was passed on to my brother and myself."
Rosemary, who loves getting otai, kebabs and Cook Islands donuts from the Māngere markets every Saturday, sees the main issues for the suburb being: cost of living, the increase in youth crime, education and affordable housing.
Her strategy for winning this seat includes using social media as well as door-knocking and attending local events.
“But nothing can substitute with meeting people in the community,” she says.
And her key message to voters is:
“I’m a local and I want what’s best for Māngere, I believe National is the Party that will give us real outcomes and policies to help all.
"Make a choice that’s not just a default to what’s always been done but look at the people who are standing and vote. Māngere deserves better in all areas."
Lemauga Lydia Sosene
Labour Party Candidate
Lemauga and I met at the Māngere Arts Centre, where prior to our interview, the staff greeted her warmly given her previous high profile role was as the Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Local Board chair.
The Favona, mother of two, became a list MP last year but says she was first offered the chance to run for Labour during the Helen Clark government. She says it's now the right time for her and her family to campaign for the Māngere seat.
“Along with Aupito, I’m inspired by our wahine toa that I’ve worked with and by the values of my parents - of helping one another and serving one another.”
Lemauga is also a big fan of the Māngere Markets but also likes getting around the suburb’s many cafes.
“There’s a lot of good eateries here at the town centre, but also in Māngere Bridge and around the airport, but I also like getting some cultural food at the markets - as I like to support local.”
She says she's already spent a lot of time talking to people around the community and it’s clear many are struggling with the cost of living, housing and education and she promises to be a bold voice for the community.
“Some people are really hurting here, so the number one thing for me is to strongly advocate for Māngere.
“And one thing that comes up in conversations with young people, besides education and cost of living, is climate change and so you’ve got to be at the table to make a difference.”
Brooke Pao Stanley
Brooke and I sat down for this interview above her Auckland Action Against Poverty (AAAP) office in the Māngere Town Centre, where she helps people navigate the government’s social welfare services or with their housing and food security needs.
As the daughter of All Black great Joe Stanely, Brooke says growing up around that environment has given her the ability to question the powerful.
“I think growing up in really privileged spaces - has given me confidence of not holding back about saying what's needed to be said for our community.”
The 37-year-old, mother of one, says while she has links to many local community organisations, and churches through her friends and family, her strategy to win will be very different from the other candidates.
“For me - it’s just about being myself, being honest, and I think the work I've been doing speaks for itself.”
Brooke, who’s favourite local eatery is the town centre’s Pizza & Curry corner for its “mean paneer Pizza”, says the main issue facing the area is how badly it is treated by local and central government.
“I want to get the seat for the community, so the community can use the seat - and get the resources, power and clout that comes with it," she says.
"And I think we can use the seat as a way to change the system. We have a community here that's already well connected and all that needs to be done is politically motivate them."
Green Party Candidate
Peter Sykes has an apple turnover with cream as we chat at a cafe near the airport, which as he points out, shows you don’t have to be a vegan, hippie to be in the Greens.
“People mock the Greens as tree huggers but I chose the Greens because it’s the only party looking long term to my grandchildren, and their grandchildren.”
The father of three and grandfather to six, has lived in Māngere for over 30 years and is the former CEO of ME Family Services. He says his family, local iwi and the land around him is what inspires him.
“My family - past, present and future - remind me where I fit into the wider world, and how to be resilient and regenerative. Te Ahiwaru - remind me of the importance of belonging to a people and place, and my Celtic origins connect me to the land, water and places around us.”
He says his priorities this election will be to campaign for the party vote but given Māngere's lower voter turnout, he will also remind people they need to make sure their voices are heard.
"I understand why people don't want to vote, but if you don't vote, you can't protest and kick the system. We are a resilient community, but don't accept marginalisation as our normal. We need to work together for a thriving place for our families and our futures. The Green Party, and Party Vote Green, is the only way to make this happen."