In 1995, I arrived in Auckland from Azerbaijan. When I stepped off that plane I was 16 years old, and I was enrolled straight away at Mt Roskill Grammar despite knowing barely any English at all.
I’d left a difficult situation behind in Azerbaijan, where I’d been living with my grandmother, and moved to New Zealand to be with my family. We were more or less destitute, and I’d only been at college a few weeks before I had to quit and work overtime at McDonalds to help keep my family sheltered and fed.
It took me some time, but eventually I was able to work my way up to manager of that McDonalds, sometimes working 70 hour weeks in order to save enough to buy a cafe business.
For many Kiwis, poverty isn’t a choice, it’s a cycle. I was only able to get out of it because I had the time and opportunities that most Kiwis in poverty don’t have. And while I was struggling, I realised that the only political party standing and speaking up for people like me and my colleagues was the Labour Party.
Labour was the only party in Parliament ready to make healthcare, education and housing a priority for those most in need.
And it wasn’t just these people that Labour was ready to help. Since I’ve been in New Zealand, Labour has worked hard to ensure that all Kiwis are entitled to fair workplace conditions and contracts, and to the physical infrastructure that keeps our cities and economy running.
It’s hard now to imagine where I’d be without the opportunities I had thanks to Labour Party accomplishments. I want my children and their generation to have those same opportunities, and more. That’s why I’m Labour, and that’s why I’m running for Parliament in the Botany electorate.
Tofik Mamedov is the Labour Party candidate for Botany. Read his profile here.