4 Nov 2008

Samoan rugby star gets rude texts for endorsing National

7:18 pm on 4 November 2008

Samoan sports star Vainga Tuigamala has been on the receiving end of rude text messages since publicly endorsing the National Party.

Tuigamala and former All Black Michael Jones are both urging Pacific Islanders to vote for National this election, because they believe it has better policies.

Tuigamala will not reveal the number or nature of the messages and says criticism by Pacific Islanders who belong to the Labour Party is to be expected.

But he says as a prominent Pacific Islander he has an obligation to let people know where his political views lie and copping criticism is part of stepping up.

He says his community still under-performs in health, education and income, and needs political leadership to make a change.

Political reaction

The Labour Party has criticised Tuigamala and Jones' endorsements, saying Labour consistently works hard for Pacific Islanders with wages up and unemployment down.

Manukau City councillor and Labour party member Efu Koka says both Tuigamala and Jones are ignoring National's track record with the Pacific population.

He says well-known people can support any political party they like so long as they are informed when they go public.

Puloto Selio Solomon, a former Labour party supporter now standing for United Future in Mangere, says the more Pacific Islanders in politics the better.

Porirua deputy mayor Letia Ah Hoy says both men have little understanding of politics.

Ms Ah Hoy says Labour's track record of wages going up and unemployment going down is evidence of practical changes for Pacific Island voters.