Among Aboriginal communities, poker machines are a point of contention. While they are very popular among Aboriginals, many people in these communities have found themselves addicted to pokies. To deal with this issue, Mana leader Hone Harawira has proposed a tougher stance on pokies which could see them banned from Aboriginal communities altogether.
Hone Harawira has recently announced his plan to remove poker machines from low-income areas across New Zealand – particularly areas that house many Maori and Pasifika residents. The group would also like to introduce a veto on pokies in casinos and cancel SkyCity’s convention centre deal. According to the Mana Party website, there are over 17000 pokies in pubs, clubs and hotels across the country.
Every year, they generate $806 million in gambling revenue, which amounts to $2.3 million per day. Recent studies have shown that problem gambling rates tend to be highest among Aboriginal populations. This is due to the high concentration of poker machines and gaming venues in their communities, and the Mana Party believes that banning the games will help to reduce problem gambling rates.
The Party is also taking a stand against alcoholism in Aboriginal communities. The group has targeted Independent Liquor, stating that the company encourages young people to engage in binge drinking by marketing products like Vodka Raspberry to younger residents.
The drink has a 9% alcohol content and three litres costs just $21, and the Mana Party aims to introduce new measures to discourage binge drink and underage drinking. One initiative would increase the price of alcohol, which would make it less affordable for young people. The Mana Party would also ban alcohol sponsorship by sports teams and cultural advertising.
The proposed measures are controversial, but the Mana Party maintains that its goal is to better the lives of Aboriginals in New Zealand.