If I Were Prime Minister: 41 Aucklanders on what they would do

by Vinesh Kumaran / 06 September, 2017
Photography/ Vinesh Kumaran

As New Zealand prepares for the general election, we sent photographer (and Māngere resident) Vinesh Kumaran on a two-week mission: to photograph people around Auckland and ask them a simple question: what would they do if they were Prime Minister?

Photographed 14 August 2017, Māngere

Semisi Sikei

“I’d like to help my people. In Tonga, where I come from, the people are poor. I would like to help them out and bring them over here to get a better life. Most of them have a hard life there, but here in New Zealand you can have a good life.”

Photographed 12 August 2017, Māngere Bridge

Faith Fangupo

“If I were Prime Minister I would help out the youth more. Create more community work and everything, just to get young people together in different sorts of areas. My passion is for young people, I would do stuff in relation to the youth coming together and having a voice.”

Photographed 3 August 2017, central city

Dizzy Strange

“I would try to change the pattern and the tartan hue of the ‘rich get richer and the poor get poorer’ picture. I would try to turn it around the other way: the rich get poorer and the poorer get richer.”

Photographed 29 July 2017, Papatoetoe

Jennifer Matthews

“Help the homeless, help the starving people that are out there. Also set captive animals free. And just make sure that everyone’s happy in themselves and got food, shelter, blankets, clothes and that kind of thing.”

Photographed 8 August 2017, Meadowbank

Luke McIntosh-Ali

“I’d like to take a less conservative stance on the prison system. I feel like it’s more punitive than it is constructive or reformative. You have people going into it for largely absurd reasons. Once they come out of it they’re sort of lost, and it can be difficult for them to find re-employment or even a place to stay. Many of them become homeless.”

Photographed 13 August 2017, Papatoetoe

Linda Kim

“I’d have a lot of babies, ‘cause I’ll have lots of money and I love kids so I will have a big family. I will do something for the next generation, like a place for small children like orphans, training them if they need help.”

Photographed 7 August 2017, Pakuranga

Satyamani Pillay

“If I were Prime Minister, everybody in the country would be self-sufficient. I think that’s the most important issue. We have to eradicate the poverty of the country.”

Photographed 25 July 2017, Māngere

Toetu Talamaivao

“Ou te manao e faalelei atoa uma e fai lo’u fesosasoani i tagata i mea o loo mafatia ai. Atoa ma faaleleiga o le malo e tusa i le alofa ua na o le fesoasoani e tatau ona tu malosi ai mo latou mafatiaga.”

“I would like to make everything better. I would like to be able to help anyone who is struggling. I would also like to run a good strong government that will be willing to help everyone who is suffering from hardship.”

Photographed 10 August 2017, Mount Albert

Marilyn (aka Gypsy) Kennbowey

“What would I do? That’s a pretty tough question. I would probably give people a lot more freedom, actually, in life. Because there’s so many rules and regulations now about things, aren’t there? Everything’s so regulated. We should be more trusting in human beings, shouldn’t we?”

Photographed 27 July 2017, Pukekohe

Patricio Bendezu

“As of now you can only get an abortion if you can prove that it’s a health risk. I would just make it so that you can get one. And probably focus heavily on primary and high school education in low-decile areas, cos obviously kids who grow up in poor areas are at a disadvantage.”

Photographed 26 July 2017, Papatoetoe

Mark Williams

“Get rid of government – simple.”

Photographed 5 August 2017, central city

Zisuh Nkessah

“That’s a tough one. I’d make life better, living standards a little more easier for everybody, especially with internationals.”

Photographed 30 July 2017, Māngere

Kirk Murray

“I will help the poor people and look after your neighbours and make sure everyone’s okay

Photographed 9 August 2017, West Auckland

Daphne Morgan

“Well, there’s quite a lot of things that I would want to do if I were Prime Minister. I would help the homeless more, and people in poverty. For once, you know, Māori have to have a say and work with the justice system, and youth – more things available for our young generation.”

Photographed 24 July 2017, Māngere Bridge

Aptar Singh

“I served in the Fiji parliament for several years. Now I’m residing in New Zealand as a businessman. I’m a National man; I’m very frank with that. I want the people in parliament to be extremely honest, and they should know what they’re doing for the people. People first, their pockets second. That’s what I have to say.”

Photographed 26 July 2017, Māngere east

Anthony Apelu

“I suppose I’d try and make things easier for normal people. That would probably involve bringing up pay rates, dropping taxes and things like that. I mean, in an ideal world it’s pretty easy to do that, but yeah, I suppose I’d do everything I can to make living easy for people in New Zealand.”

Photographed 7 August 2017, North Shore

Julia George

“That is a really difficult question. Because it’s related to what I do, I would kind of be focussed on looking at health and criminal justice issues. So that’s what I would want to do, look at reforming things and move away from punitive criminal justice systems to helping people and treating them more as health issues. That would be the first thing.”

Photographed 24 July 2017, Māngere

Lucky James Winikerei

“What would I do? Make sure everyone’s life is long-lasting. That means looking after the people, starting with the elders to the youngest, and giving the people the benefit and every helping hand they can [get] out of life. I’d probably increase the minimum wage and superannuation.”

Photographed July 27 2017, Papakura

Ashton Overwater

“I would fix the mental health system in New Zealand cos it fuckin’ sucks. That’s all that I can really think of.”

Photographed 5 August 2017, Glen Innes

Rangi Raupita

“Try and work everything in with the people. Just work it in with everyone else.”

Photographed 2 August 2017, Leigh

David William Lawton

“Resign immediately.”

Photographed 2 August 2017, Onehunga

Jayben Sabin

“If I were Prime Minister I would make ice cream free for everyone over 20.”

Photographed 29 July 2017, Papatoetoe

Warren Christie

"Being in Auckland, I think housing is a big problem, so I would focus on housing. Things are getting very expensive and everything. I’d see what best I could do for housing the people. Do something to buy houses rather than renting.”

Photographed 8 August 2017, central city

Amanda Caldwell

“If I were Prime Minister, I would raise benefits, because I truly believe that when you take money from people like the way the WINZ is doing (and they don’t give very much) it forces people to a life of crime to get the same rewards. I would try and support families and single mothers and I would just try and help out the average bloke

Photographed 25 July 2017, Māngere

Viola Talamaivao

“Na o le Atua e silasila i le malo. E fesoasoani i tagata i mafatiaga ma mea uma... alofa i tagata ua puapuagatia.”

“Only God can oversee the government. But I would like to help and love each person who is suffering.”

Photographed 28 July 2017, Manurewa

Christian Pule

“Wow, it’s a big question. First, I’d like to work on the people. Bring everyone together. A lot of people need help these days. I’d bring homeless people together who need help. For students, bring down the tax rate I reckon. You know, it’s kind of unfair – we study for several years and then it’s hard to find a job after that because we need experience. And I feel that’s unfair, doing all that studying for nothing

Photographed 12 August 2017, Pakuranga

Stewart Hall

“That’s an interesting question. Fucked if I know, if you wanna know the truth. I think maybe legalise pot? I think there’s a whole lot of other things that New Zealand needs, like housing to be sorted, and that’s a hard decision to make.”

Photographed 10 August 2017, Grafton

Lei Ge (Graham)

"If I were Prime Minister, I think I would get more people opportunities to work, and not have too many people hanging around with no job. It just looks bad in the street.

Photographed 4 August 2017, Sandringham

Quishile Charan

“I don’t believe in government structures cos they’re a colonialist hell. Maybe if I were Prime Minister, I could work on something where I can dismantle the colonial state.”

Photographed 9 August 2017, Massey

Richard Martin

“I’d try and find ways of helping people, cos they’re cutting the benefits now. To find some ways of helping the poorer families; the families that are finding things hard.  Find ways to try and make it easier for them eh? Life these days ain’t that easy, especially out south and the poor side of the west – pretty hard eh.”

Photographed 8 August 2017, Glendowie

Jethro Radovan

“Medicinal cannabis. Increase it and make it available for people.”


Photographed 31 July 2017, Glenbrook Beach

Ivan Culpitt

“Oh that’s a tough one. I’d definitely be looking into this housing issue, as well as how much employees are paid, because I feel that the living wage is the minimum that everyone should be on, and at the moment rent in Auckland is crazy. They can’t expect a family to survive on minimum wage. I mean, that’s ridiculous.”

Photographed 24 July 2017, Onehunga

Jon Palavi

“Shit. I’d make sure people had homes – a roof over their heads. Yeah, that’ll be my main priority.  It’s not good seeing people out on the streets eh. So housing, definitely housing.”

Photographed 3 August 2017, Papakura

Neihana Te Hau O Te Rangi Lowe

“Oh that’s a loaded question. I would do right by the people and I’d want to know what they want more than anything.”

Photographed 26 July 2017, Papatoetoe

Atawhai Hauai

“I don’t know. The homeless, I wanna help the homeless. Supply them with food, blankets, warm things.”

Photographed 7 August 2017, Māngere

Vivien McGaughey

“I would reorganise the financial affairs of New Zealand to bring about more clarity between one level and the other. In other words, bring it more to middle New Zealand.”

Photographed 4 August 2017, Māngere

Carlos Tuiletufuga

“I’d probably do more in things like groceries, agriculture, and I’d make sure that we keep doing those things as a basis for us to trade.”

Photographed 30 July 2017, Manukau

Miriam Sharp

“That is a very, very difficult question to answer. But I think the first thing we should think about is the welfare of the people. I can’t think of anything [specific] at the moment but it has to do with people.”

Photographed 27 July 2017, Manukau

Michael Saxon

“The first thing I’d do is fire everybody in parliament and look for people who actually want to help the people.”

Photographed 2 August 2017, Glen Eden

Laurie Ross

“I’d make sure the redirection of military spending went into healthcare, affordable housing and education. And I’d ensure that there was community work as the new future of work, so there would be hundreds and thousands not just in conservation work but community health workers, mental health workers, early childhood workers, and elder care workers, because the future is one where the computers and technology will take over a lot of the old jobs. So what does modern civilisation really need? It needs more caring people, more human beings, we need to humanise our society and demilitarise it and preserve and look after the environmental health that we are dependent on.”


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