Minpacalumni's Weblog

Weblog for former staff of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in New Zealand

Archive for February, 2009

Pacific people need strong representation

Posted by Sai Lealea on February 24, 2009

Party politics should have been put aside in the best interests of Pacific Island people Labour Pacific Affairs spokesperson Luamanuvao Winne Laban says.

“A fono and meeting today to discuss Pacific Island jobs could have been an opportunity for all groups to come together to ensure Pacific voices were heard. Unfortunately the National Party decided not to invite Labour’s Pacific MPs. It is particularly disappointing for Labour Pacific MPs not to be invited when Labour Maori MPs had been invited and took part in a government run Maori economic workshop in January this year.

“Labour wants to work constructively and proactively with government in the best interests of Pacific Island people and New Zealand.

“Pacific people are extremely vulnerable during harsh economic times and they need to know their elected representatives are doing everything to help them.”

Winnie Laban said Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina Te Heuheu was not part of the meeting of economic ministers organised by Prime Minister John Key in January to plan the jobs summit that will be held next week and has now missed a valuable opportunity to include people who wanted to contribute.

“We also have no idea whether the Minister has even been invited to take part in next week’s jobs summit or whether she is lobbying her colleagues and ensuring that Pacific Island concerns are being heard at the highest levels of Government.

“We need to ensure that our Pacific representatives in Government are working in the best interests of our people and not simply engaging in talk-fests. New Zealand needs real solutions that will keep Pacific people in jobs during this recession,” Winne Laban said.



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Pacific people hit hard by recession

Posted by Sai Lealea on February 24, 2009

Pacific people hit hard by recession

By KATHERINE NEWTON – The Dominion Post | Friday, 20 February 2009

Pacific Islanders are far more vulnerable to the effects of the economic crisis than other groups, a forum was told yesterday. Pacific Island Affairs Ministry chief executive Colin Tukuitonga told the meeting of community and business leaders that almost a quarter of islanders were employed in manufacturing an industry already hit by the downtown.

The ministry forum is designed to help New Zealand’s Pacific Islanders through the recession. Mr Tukuitonga said that, although the community was resilient, he was worried about the proportion of young, unskilled workers. He said younger people should be encouraged to stay in education. “We want to focus on skills and training and higher education so they … set themselves up for better jobs when the upturn comes.” In 2006, 48 per cent of Pacific Island people in New Zealand were aged under 19 and 64 per cent of Pacific Island employees worked in semi-skilled to low-skilled jobs. Dr Tukuitonga also said he had concerns about how extended families, who exist on money sent from wages earned in New Zealand, would be affected by the downturn.

About 40 Pacific business and community leaders attended the forum. Many believe the recession is hitting Pacific people hard. “It’s very real out here in Porirua,” Porirua city councillor Litea Ah Hoi said. “Our unemployment rate has risen by 500 in the last three months.”

People still felt obliged to help out extended family even though times were tougher, Ms Ah Hoi said. “And families still want to spend big money on weddings and funerals, leaving less for essentials. “We just have to hold back and look at what is really important. That’s making sure that the rent is paid, there’s a roof over kids’ heads and food in their tummies.”

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Fono looks for Pacific solution to jobs dilemma

Posted by Sai Lealea on February 18, 2009

Georgina te Heuheu

18 February, 2009

Fono looks for Pacific solution to jobs dilemma

Minimising the impact of the global economic recession on Pacific people is the goal of tomorrow’s fono called by Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Hon Georgina te Heuheu.

The fono will canvass a Pacific perspective for the Government’s jobs summit later in the month.

Mrs te Heuheu said the current global economic climate presents challenges for all New Zealanders including Pacific communities.

Decreasing global demand for New Zealand products would have significant impact on the industries that employ Pacific people. Unemployment was likely to rise particularly for lower skilled workers in primary and manufacturing industries.

Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs Chief executive Dr Colin Tukuitonga said Pacific people are arguably already disadvantaged in the labour market.

‘They tend to work in low-skilled and low-paid jobs. The average Pacific worker earns $3.66 an hour less than other workers.

‘Almost one in four of Pacific people have jobs work in manufacturing – and we know that some of those jobs are starting to disappear.

‘We will look at what we can do to keep people in work as long as possible – whether by protecting existing jobs or creating new ones.

‘Where that isn’t do-able, and people are laid off and unable to find new jobs, we want to focus on skills and training and higher education so they make best use of the time off work and set themselves up for better jobs when the upturn comes.

‘Let’s not forget that the youthfulness of the Pacific population means that they will be an increasingly important part of the future workforce, under pressure to support an aging New Zealand population.

‘It’s in all our interests that they are supported to stay in work, or where that’s not possible, helped to stay positive and focussed on getting work, retraining or studying for higher qualifications.’

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Pasifika Festival showcases Pacific pride

Posted by Sai Lealea on February 13, 2009

Georgina te Heuheu

13 February, 2009

Pasifika Festival showcases Pacific pride


Pacific pride will be highlighted at next month’s Auckland Pasifika Festival.
Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina te Heuheu says it is fitting that Auckland – the largest Polynesian city in the world – showcases the biggest Polynesian event in the world.
‘The Pasifika festival is a wonderful celebration of Pacific pride. The Government is staunch in its support for the festival and the Auckland City Council’s decision to assist with funding.’
Mrs te Heuheu said she planned to attend the festival. She  was saddened that Labour had chosen to play politics over funding.
‘Labour’s Pacific Island spokesperson, Winnie Laban, says she is disappointed by the move of some government agencies to withdraw funding.
‘What she failed to say is that the first cuts in sponsorship were made while Labour was the government. The Ministry for Education relinquished its first right of sponsorship renewal in August 2008 – and in September ACC started talks with the Auckland City Council aimed at transitioning its sponsorship. By January, they agreed they could not agree on terms of the contract.
‘I’m disappointed that Winnie has chosen to turn this wonderful spectacle into a political football.
‘This is a time to support sponsors such as the Ministry for Economic Development, the Auckland City Council,  Creative New Zealand, Sport and Recreation, private sponsors and all those members of the Pacific Island community and Aucklanders themselves who willingly volunteer their time to ensure a fantastic Polynesian day out.’


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Infrastructure boost good for Maori and Pacific communities

Posted by Sai Lealea on February 11, 2009

Georgina te Heuheu

11 February, 2009

Infrastructure boost good for Maori and Pacific communities


Today’s Government announcement bringing forward capital expenditure on infrastructure projects in the education, transport and housing sectors is good news for Maori and Pacific communities, Associate Minister of Maori Affairs and Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina te Heuheu said today.
‘Coming on top of the increase in the minimum wage, speeding up this capital expenditure shows this National-led Government is listening to the community,’ she said.
‘Boosting economic activity does not have to be at the expense of our most vulnerable.  Women, Maori, Pacific people and youth will be the winners from today’s decisions aimed primarily at ensuring New Zealand can ride out the worldwide economic recession.
‘Maori and Pacific Islanders all too often provide the buffer at the bottom of the social and economic statistics.
‘It will take time to fully address these issues, but this week’s announcements are a good start.’
On Thursday  the Minister will attend a community meeting in Mangere, organised to enable her to meet with Pacific people in Auckland.  More than 300 people from Auckland’s seven main Pacific ethnicities are expected to attend.

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