Mayor responds to “Pacific underclass” comments
22 May 2008
Manukau mayor responds to “Pacific underclass” comments
The mayor of New Zealand’s biggest Pasifika city says Pacific Island people are a vital and vibrant part of Manukau’s social and economic fabric.
Manukau mayor Len Brown says Pacific people are making educational and economic progress in Manukau but there is room for improvement.
Mr Brown’s comments are in response to an academic paper warning Pacific people in New Zealand are in danger of becoming an underclass because of low education and skill levels.
The paper by a Massey University researcher discusses New Zealand’s immigration policies, the Auckland region’s economic performance and the implications of population growth.
“It doesn’t really tell us anything we don’t already know about the need for improving outcomes for Pacific people,” Mr Brown says.
“I want to emphasise that Pacific people are a significant part of Manukau’s population and they are valued residents.
“Let’s not forget the gains that have been made.”
Mr Brown says Pacific people benefited from
Manukau’s spectacular GDP growth in the six years since
“The unemployment rate for Pacific people has improved markedly.”
Pacific success stories are highlighted every two years at the Pacific Business Awards held in Manukau.
Mr Brown is also looking forward to the Manukau Institute of Technology Main Graduation Ceremony next week and expects to see many Pasifika students graduating.
“I’m told that 23 percent of all MIT’s graduates last year were Pasifika. That’s very encouraging.”
Mr Brown says there is a need for more early childhood education services in Manukau and he has told political party leaders about this.
“There’s also a shortage of qualified educators for Pasifika early childhood services and I’m pleased to see MIT graduates coming through in this area.”
Mr Brown says the Pacific Music Awards to be held in Manukau on May 31 will be a showcase of energy, creativity and talent.
And he recalls the passion and pride on display at the ASB Polyfest held in Manukau earlier this year, the largest festival of its type in the world.
“There’s so much that’s really positive about our Pacific communities. Where would our top rugby union and league teams be without Pasifika players?”