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Council to engage with its ‘silent community’

MEDIA RELEASE
13 May 2005


Council to engage with its ‘silent community’

Auckland City Council is launching an initiative to encourage its Pacific community to speak up so it has a greater role in council policy and planning.

Auckland City’s Partnerships Committee has decided to set up a Pacific Islands advisory group to partner with the council and other relevant agencies so challenges facing the Pacific Islands community can be addressed.

Councillor John Hinchcliff, chairperson of Auckland City’s Partnerships Committee, says that the large population of Pacific people within Auckland city boundaries and the complex socio-economic challenges it faces necessitates an initiative that focuses attention on the specific needs of the Pacific community.

“The Pacific community in Auckland is very large but it does not have an effective voice in the council’s decision-making process. There is also a low level of understanding and awareness about what council does and the services it offers. This is a serious concern. We want the Pacific community to achieve the level of community wellbeing that council wants all its communities to experience.

“The aim of initiatives such as this is to build on current relationships and encourage Pacific people to engage in council processes,” says Dr Hinchcliff.

Auckland City’s Community Development and Equity Committee this week agreed to fund the establishment the advisory group via its Community Development and Enhancement Fund, at a cost of $90,000.

The chairperson of Auckland City’s Community Development and Equity Committee, Councillor Cathy Casey, says the board will be an effective vehicle to provide advice on how council can better engage with Pacific Island communities.

“These types of initiatives will lead to a greater appreciation of what these communities need to be effective.

“Socio-economic issues such as unemployment, health, and lower attainment levels in education have been identified as major challenges facing the Pacific community.

“We need to better understand these and to incorporate knowledge and concerns that are unique to the Pacific community into our planning,” she says.

To achieve this, Auckland City will develop a Pacific peoples governance and participation policy. This will be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Pacific Island Peoples (MPIA) and Auckland City’s Pacific community and by using feedback from models used by Manukau and Waitakere city councils, which have implemented similar partnerships.

A Pacific Islands advisory group will be a key to developing and implementing the policy. Over the next few months, the council will work with the Pacific Islands community to identify and develop the roles, responsibilities and functions of an advisory group.

The council estimates that ongoing annual operational costs for the advisory group will be about $50,000. In the future the group may apply for funding through the annual plan process.

Ends

Notes for editors:
The Auckland region is home to 65 per cent of New Zealand’s national population of Pacific peoples.
35 per cent of the Auckland region’s Pacific population resides within the Auckland city boundaries (making up 14 per cent of the city’s population).
The Samoan community is the largest, accounting for 6 per cent of the population, followed by the Tongan community (4 per cent), Cook Island communities (2 per cent) and Nuiean community (2 per cent).
The 2001 statistics show Pacific communities (including Maori) have the youngest age structure of any ethnic group in Auckland city. In total 40 per cent of Pacific peoples fall within the 5 to 24-age bracket.
Manukau City Council established a Pacific Islands Advisory Committee in 1989, and Waitakere City Council established a Pacific Island Advisory Board in 1990.

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