13 MARCH 2007
Pacific Island Leaders call on MP’s to reject ‘anti-smacking’ bill
Community leaders from the Pacifica community have expressed their opposition to Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking bill which
is being debated in Parliament tomorrow.
Ex-All Black and parent Eroni Clarke and Silver Fern Linda Vagana have joined forces with Tongan church leader and
grandparent Rev Tavake Tupou, Porirua Councillor and Samoan Litea Ah Hoi, Lawyer and Samoan grandparent Olinda
Woodriffe, and well known Niuean musician and parent Tony Fuemana to ask MP’s to reject a bill which they believe will
do more harm than good to Pacific Island parents and families.
Eroni Clarke says he opposes the bill because he wants to be a parent that lovingly raises his children and if it means
to use corrective smacking, he wants to do it without the possibility of breaking the law.
“I watch how my nieces and nephews are corrected by their parents,” says Linda Vagana, “and I see how Pacifica parents
correct and raise their children – they’re doing a great job but this bill will treat them like criminals and tell them
they’re not doing a good job.”
According to Tongan community leader Rev Tavake Tupou, Pacific Island families need support from the government - not
laws that oppose them. And Porirua Councillor Litea Ah Hoi says that repealing sec 59 will not stop the small percentage
of people, parents, and guardians who use violent physical abuse. She states that this will continue despite any simple
law change like this.
Pacific Island people are also concerned by the legal opinion of Queens Counsel (QC) Peter McKenzie released earlier
this month that Pacifica families will be targeted by social workers and groups who want all physical discipline,
including what are reasonable cultural practices of Pacifica families, banned.
Because of the Pacific Island emphasis on suitable discipline which is not child abuse, and the socio-economic status of
many of this community, the Pacific Island community are far more at danger of unwarranted attention, investigation, and
punishment from this legislation than other groups.