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Nationwide Pacific fono

18 July 2000 Media Statement
Nationwide Pacific fono

The Government is to host a series of fono with Pacific communities throughout New Zealand the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Mark Gosche said today.

The first North Island fono will kick off this week with two public meetings in Auckland.

"Closing social disparity gaps that exist between Pacific peoples and other New Zealanders is a Government priority," said Mr Gosche.

"To do this we need to work alongside Pacific communities and networks so they can set their own goals and solutions that will work for them."

"This represents a new partnership between Pacific peoples and the New Zealand Government."

Mr Gosche said the fono would give communities the opportunity to talk and make contact with Government representatives. Mr Gosche and staff from the ministry will attend every meeting. The first fono was held earlier this month in Christchurch and Mr Gosche said Pacific communities in the South Island were already working with the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs. Further fono are planned for other North and South Island cities over the coming months. It is expected that fono will be held regularly over the next three years.

"For many years Pacific New Zealanders have worked hard and helped make our country strong. Despite this we lag behind others in terms of education, income, health and most social indicators," said Mr Gosche.

He said the Labour-Alliance Coalition Government is working on a wide range of policies aimed at closing disparity gaps between Maori and Pacific people and other New Zealanders.

"We cannot afford to ignore the reality that a huge section of our population continues to lag behind the rest of the country."

"Maori and Pacific communities are growing at nearly twice the rate of other groups. In 50 years time nearly half of all Kiwis will have a Maori or Pacific heritage."

"The time to act is now and our Government is convinced that by working with Maori and Pacific communities we can begin to close disparity gaps together."

Budget 2000 saw the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs baseline funding increased for the first time since it was set up. Further funding was secured to contract community workers who will assist Pacific communities who will be working towards closing disparity gaps.

ENDS

Auckland Pacific Fono

South Auckland
Thursday 20 July 2000
6.30-8pm
Cecelia's Convention Centre, 5 Tavern Lane, Papatoetoe


West Auckland
Friday 21 July 2000
6.30-8pm
Avondale Community Centre, 99 Rosebank Road, Avondale, West Auckland

ENDS

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