People are asking, hey bro what’s your point of difference, your uniqueness, what is it that you believe will set you apart from the other parties and capture the imagination of the disaffected, the disempowered, the fringe dwellers, the disenchanted and the lunatic fringe?
They have 50 years of political experience and maturity. They have some wise political heads and advisors. They have been in or out of Govt over those 50 years since independence and know how to play the game to stay in power no matter what. They have an established cadre of political supporters. The two main parties are usually either in government, or in opposition waiting to hopefully transition into government. They are the current parties of choice. Their longevity means their supporters vote along very well-established party/family/generational lines and are generally either in one camp or the other and others are shut out.
How do I compete against this? Well to tell you the truth, I’m not competing against this, I’m offering another choice, an alternative such as: I come with no baggage, no family considerations, no tribal affiliations apart from the fact that I can whakapapa back here to a point 2000 years ago. Many Cook Islanders have no idea about their akapapa past two or three generations.
I am totally neutral, I have a village, community and country focus, I am fair minded, I am principled, I am honest, I can seem to be very opinionated and a fighter of injustice.
I can be intense at times, I can be hard-nosed, but I cannot be bought and I have 50 years of experience, skills and qualifications through being able to walk, talk and work equally well in a Papa’a world and a Maori world.
I am equally at home talking to the ordinary man, woman or child on the street, in the home and in the village, the boardroom to government to big business and I come from tuakana chiefly lines in Aotearoa.
I am attracting learned, articulate and astute, experienced, wise, intelligent Cook Islanders from the young generations to the more mature who, without exception, are staunchly pro-Cook Islands.
I have worked for government departments in Cook Islands and in New Zealand as well as global and local businesses, owned several successful consulting businesses, worked for Maori Trusts and Iwi Authorities, lectured in academia, worked for local councils, so my breadth of experience covers over 40 years. I have worked internationally for global 500 companies, lived in Asia and in doing so picked up a smattering of their languages and customs – tell me which of the present crop of MPs have done this.
I have, growing by the day, increasing numbers of dissatisfied political supporters and we are not so naïve as to believe we can transition into government come the next elections, but what we are focusing on is the marginal seats and we have a number of policies that focus on what we believe will be a solutions-driven approach to present and future challenges we will be facing as a country.
Our supporters come from all walks of life and gender, from all sectors, Cookies living overseas, locals, government and business and we are unswayed and determined to challenge the political direction in this country and to ensure the rule of law is maintained, offering openness, inclusivity for all people and most importantly we will tell the truth.
The final question they ask is, bro, you are on a hiding to nothing and good luck to you because you are going to need it.
Look folks, I am under no illusions about how difficult it’s going to be, how we are going to come under siege and that people will continue to take pot shots at me.
At the end of the day we will give it our best shot and if we get somewhere that’s a bonus – if not, at least I stood up, fought the good fight and put my money where my mouth is and did something about it, which is my constitutional right to do.
But please, put some energy into listening to our ideas or heaven forbid you might have ideas yourselves, wouldn’t that be something, rather than bagging us, and come along for the ride.
At least we are offering a plausible alternative, you never know you might learn and gain something along the way.
Te Tuhi Kelly