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Waitakere Branch Of Pacific Business Trust Opening

Pacific Business Trust Media Release Wednesday 14 April 2004


Pacific business people in Auckland's Waitemata region will benefit from a new Pacific Business Trust office set to open next Friday, 23 April, in partnership with Enterprise Waitakere.

The Pacific Business Trust's new office acknowledges the significant Pacific population in the Waitemata region (Waitakere and parts of the North Shore) where 29,148 Pacific peoples live. The Trust's office will also engage with clients who have difficulty accessing its head office in Manukau.

The Pacific Business Trust was established in 1985 and offers business information, support and advice, as well as training and venture funding opportunities to people of Pacific descent. Funded by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, the Trust has offices in Manukau, Wellington and Christchurch.

PBT Chief Executive Jim Mather says by establishing an office in partnership with Enterprise Waitakere, the Trust hopes to become part of the West Auckland business development landscape.

"We want to provide a better service to our communities in that area," says Mather. "A lot of positive things are already happening for Pacific business people in the region and this office will aim to complement that."

He adds although the Auckland region is viewed as the stronghold for New Zealand's Pacific communities, Manukau and West Auckland are distinctly different centres.

"The travel time and distance was an important factor for us in determining whether to open this new office," says Mather. "When traffic is particularly bad, it can take someone up to an hour and a half to travel from West Auckland to our office, and that's almost a three hour round trip. We felt it was unrealistic for us to expect people to travel in such conditions during the day, especially busy working people."

The new office is being welcomed by Taha Fasi, Board Member of Enterprise Waitakere and chairperson of the Pacific Islands Advisory Board of Waitakere City Council. Fasi says the new office will help the drive by Pacific people for greater economic development, particularly through Pacific arts and culture.

"The Board is working with Enterprise Waitakere to boost the participation of Pacific people in economic development with its activities at the Pacific Arts Centre based at Corbans Estate. We look forward to leveraging assistance from the Trust," says Fasi.

The Pacific Business Trust's Waitemata office will be headed by Tongan business advisor, Matafonua Robert Soakai. Soakai taught economics at Auckland University before starting with the Trust last February. He also worked as a financial controller at the Tongan Development Bank in Tonga and is studying for his PhD in management and employer relations. "I'm looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead of me and it's a great honour for me to fly the Pacific Business Trust flag out West," says Soakai. "My focus will be to serve the Pacific business community in this region with the business development skills and knowledge that I have, and add to their economic development."

Associate Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Labour MP Taito Phillip Field will officiate at the opening of the new office next Friday with other local dignitaries including His Worship the Mayor of Waitakere, Bob Harvey. The new office will be based at Westsmart, on the second floor of the John Henry Centre, corner of Pioneer and Catherine Streets, Henderson.

The office opening will be followed by a celebration ceremony at Lincoln Green with the local Pacific communities.


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