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AREDS Pacific Programme Manager Announced

For immediate release Wednesday 28 January 2004

AREDS PACIFIC PROGRAMME MANAGER ANNOUNCED

A new Pacific Programme Manager has been recruited by the Auckland Regional Economic Development Strategy (AREDS) to develop a Pacific Arts Development Centre and Pacific business projects in the Auckland region.

Samoan born, Wilmason Jensen, was selected for the new position last week by the AREDS management team and its Pacific Leaders Group.

Nuku Rapana, Chairman of the Pacific Leaders Group (PLG), said Wilmason had the right mix of qualifications, experience, skills and passion for the job.

"Wilmason's role will mean that we have someone who understands the Pacific community and who'll be dedicated to making the Pacific Arts Development Centre project a reality", said Rapana.

Wilmason holds degrees in law and arts from the University of Auckland and previously worked as a Senior Regional Policy Advisor for the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs in Auckland. He also has a strong musical background and has been Music Director of the Auckland Pacific Gospel Choir since 1999.

One of Wilmason's first tasks with AREDS will be to establish a commercially sustainable Pacific Arts Development Centre in Manukau. Significant funding was set aside last year for the establishment of the multi-purpose arts development centre, a collaborative project between AREDS and the Pacific Leaders Group.

Wilmason will also help to provide Pacific input into AREDS major regional initiatives including a film and screen innovation project and the long-term building of a Pacific tourism cluster.

At a special welcoming ceremony at the Pacific Business Trust last week, Wilmason said he was excited to be working in an area where government was collaborating closely with Pacific business and community groups.

"There's a lot of government and business terminology being bandied about in these projects," said Wilmason, "but what will really get me out of bed every morning is the fact that our community people will benefit from them."

AREDS was established and funded by the local government authorities in wider Auckland to advance the future social and economic wellbeing of the Auckland region. The Pacific Leaders Group (PLG) was formed in February 2003 in partnership with AREDS, to investigate opportunities for Pacific capacity building and help define a clear economic direction for the region's future.

AREDS Chief Executive, Dr Susan Macken, said the Pacific projects managed by Wilmason will have positive benefits for all Aucklanders in the future.

"Wilmason was successful because of his obvious talent and commitment to our objectives," said AREDS Chief Executive, Susan Macken. "We're pleased that we're moving forward with him on some really strong projects and our goal now is to make things happen."

Ends

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