Labour leader David Cunliffe speaks to Catholic Massgoers

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe attended a Catholic Mass at Mangere in South Auckland on Sunday, where he addressed those present.

He spoke at the Auckland Catholic Samoan Centre, at the Malaeola Community Centre in Mangere.

Mr Cunliffe was accompanied by other south Auckland Labour MPs, including Louisa Wall who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill that became law last year.

Auckland diocese said Mr Cunliffe spoke after the monthly Mass, at the usual time for notices and announcements.

“David Cunliffe didn’t in any way abuse the occasion, he did speak very respectfully indeed,” diocese spokesperson Lyndsay Freer said.

Prime Minister John Key is scheduled to speak at the Malaeola Centre next month, she added, so there is no question of partisanship.

MPs from various parties are often given the chance to greet the community when attending Mass at Malaeola.

Samoan chaplain Fr Michael Endemann and Catholic Samoan community leaders are keen to give people a chance to listen to what the political parties have to say.

“They have told people there that the Church doesn’t tell people how to vote, and that is why they are asking leaders from various parties to come and talk so people can make up their own mind,” Mrs Freer said.

After the Mass, Mr Cunliffe told 3 News that he disagreed with National Party claims they are making inroads into the traditional Labour heartland in south Auckland.

“There’s no evidence of that at all,” Mr Cunliffe said.

“As you can tell from today, the Pacific vote is firmly with the Labour Party because we are firmly for the Pacific community.”

Mr Cunliffe played down any Pacific Islands backlash against Ms Wall.

3 News showed comments from churchgoers saying they will vote for Labour, as they always have.

Earlier this year, National MP Judith Collins also spoke at the Malaeola Centre.

Ms Collins told reporters after her visit: “South Auckland can always make or break elections.”


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