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Report doesn't recognise wider Pacifi contribution

Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Massey's Pasifika Director says report fails to recognise wider contribution of Pacific people

Concern at the negative impact on the Pacific Island community following publication of a Massey research paper on immigration has prompted Massey’s Acting Director Pasifika Sione Tu’itahi to highlight the University’s efforts to advance Pasifika education.

Mr Tu'itahi says Dr Greg Clydesdale's report on Pacific migrants to New Zealand, made public last week, has failed to recognise the wider contribution of Pacific people.

The discussion paper by Dr Clydesdale, an economist in the University's College of Business, sparked a furore for referring to a “Pacific underclass”, which was reported to be a "drain" on the economy.

“While the report reflects the view of an individual researcher, the Pasifika@Massey Strategy reflects the official position of Massey University and its commitment to the socio-economic wellbeing of Pasifika peoples,” Mr Tu’itahi says.

He wanted to draw attention to Massey’s Pasifika Strategy – a first for any New Zealand tertiary institution – and official policy of the University, unlike Dr Clydesdale's report.

Since it was launched last year, many of the Pasifika@Massey initiatives have been implemented, says Mr Tu’itahi.

As well as a boom in research under the Pasifika directorate, the University now has Pasifika learning spaces on all three campuses, and an increase in Pasifika support staff to respond to student needs.

Pasifika students from the Auckland campus provide learning support for Pasifika secondary school students in the region to encourage them to do tertiary study, and staff are collaborating with government agencies as well as Pacific Island communities both in New Zealand and in island nations.

At this year’s graduation ceremony in Auckland, three PhDs were awarded to Pasifika students – a record for the campus and one it aims to quickly surpass.

“Pasifika@Massey aims to build on strengths, achievements, potentials and aspirations of Pasifika peoples,” says Mr Tu’itahi. “It focuses on working with Pasifika peoples to find solutions rather than accentuating problems and approaches that are based on deficit models.”

He says Pasifika people have contributed hugely to New Zealand’s sporting and arts successes both regionally and internationally.

By measuring people as economic units, Dr Clydesdale has presented a limited view of the positive role and contribution of Pacific Islanders to New Zealand society.

While he respects academic freedom, Mr Tu’itahi says the report “reflects just one way, an economic analysis and interpretation of multiple facts, largely systemic, that contribute to the socio-economic status of Pasifika peoples".

"Massey’s Pasifika Strategy, on the other hand, is about working with fellow human beings to realise their full potential. It is about being more, rather than having more.”

Massey University has welcomed the announcement by Race Relations Conciliator Joris de Bres that he will investigate Dr Clydesdale's report. It is expected that that several Massey academics and other staff will be pleased to participate in any review.

The report was released independently by Dr Clydesdale. It may be viewed here:

More information about Massey's Pasifika strategy may be viewed here:


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