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Post Budget 2001 Fono West Auckland - Gosche

Hon Mark Gosche Speech Notes

Post Budget 2001 Fono West Auckland

Introduction

Kia orana, Ni sa bula vinaka, Taloha ni, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo e lelei, Halo Oketa, Ia orana, Kia ora, Talofa lava, and warm Pacific greetings to you all.

I acknowledge the tangata whenua. Kia ora koutou.

It is with great pleasure that I come here today, to talk on this year’s Budget, and the funding that is available for Pacific initiatives for our Pacific peoples.

The past year has seen significant progress made for Pacific peoples in New Zealand, thanks largely to this Government’s strong commitment to reduce the inequalities for Pacific peoples, and Pacific peoples and government agencies’ genuine desire to make this happen.

Our Pacific Building Capacity strategy presented new opportunities never seen before in this country. This has been a huge exercise - perhaps the most significant challenge the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has ever undertaken.

We saw more than 5,000 Pacific peoples identify their communities’ priorities and needs, and the pathways towards achieving social and economic prosperity. Thirty Government agencies and local authorities from eight regions responded. And in February the government approved the Programmes of Action, with 80% of the responses to be actioned within current budget baselines.

I am pleased to say that almost all the Pacific initiatives in Budget 2001 were identified as priorities in the Programmes of Action. And the grant allocations were made on this basis - on what our Pacific peoples see as their priorities.

I am also pleased to say that this Government is still as committed as ever to reducing the inequalities that exist for our Pacific peoples - which all of us here today know only too well.

And I am heartened by the progress that is being made to address these inequalities.

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, the eight Pacific Community Reference Groups and government agencies, are making good progress on the next phase of Pacific Capacity Building strategy - Implementation - making the recommendations in the Programmes of Action a reality. I know we all look forward to seeing the results of our collective efforts.

Budget 2001 - Consolidation

This year’s Budget, Budget 2001 is focussed on Consolidation and Capacity Building. Building on the foundations laid in the last Budget year, and to progressing the aspirations of Pacific peoples by strengthening the capacity and capability of Pacific peoples to achieve self -reliance.

Many Pacific programmes received extra funding under Budget 2001. These include:

- Targeted assistance to increase the number of Pacific youngsters in early childhood education ($339,000 for 2000-2001 to $679,000 for 2001-2002)

- English as a second language assistance for Pacific students ($300,000 for the last financial year to $2million for this financial year)

- Literacy programmes for Pacific adults ($192,000 last year to $367,000 this year)

- Intensive home visits by health professionals ($1.3 million last year to $3.2 million this year)

- Suicide prevention for “at risk” youth ($743,000 last year to $1.5 million for this year)

- Job search skills for Pacific job seekers ($1.3 million now up to $2.7 million for this year)

- Community education to reduce family abuse ($800,000 now up to $1 million)

- Additional Pacific family focused services ($500,000 last year up to $1million for this year).

West Auckland will reap some of the benefits of these increases, and has already benefited from many of this government's Pacific initiatives.

For instance the $7.5 million committed by the government over four years for study support centres will include the Vaevae Manana Tonga Trust here in West Auckland. Another Pacific education initiative already underway in Auckland is a Ministry of Education plan to boost Pacific involvement in early childhood education. Four Pacific providers are working in Pacific communities to increase the attendance of Pacific four year olds by 200 children.

Another example of local funding is from the contingency funding from Child Youth and Family for community education initiatives to reduce family violence and child abuse. Pacific providers in West and Central Auckland that have received funding from this source include the Pacific Island Safety and Prevention Project and the Nor-Western Cook Island Taokotai. Both these organisations also received funding from the Child Youth and Family Pacific provider development fund, along with 10 other Pacific providers in West and Central Auckland.

And also on the local front there is money coming from the Ministry of Health's Pacific Provider Development funding scheme to assist Pacific providers of Pacific health care.

Nationally $2.35 million was allocated to this scheme in the last financial year, and last year we announced we were increasing this to $5 million a year for each of the next three years beginning this year.

While this financial year's funding has not yet been allocated, approximately 70 percent of the money so far allocated from last year went to Auckland Pacific providers, including primary health care provider Pacifica Health Care here in West Auckland. Another $1 million of last year's money is still to be allocated but the expectation that this too will go on Pacific primary care providers.

Pacific Business Trust Boost

Returning to the national picture, Pacific businesses got a boost from the Budget with a $500,000 increase for the Pacific Business Trust.

This funding shows this government’s commitment to helping to develop Pacific businesses. The trust provides low-interest loans and business development advice to Pacific businesses, as well as tertiary education information to young people.

The funding will help the Trust assist Pacific businesses nationwide and focus on skills unique to Pacific people, particularly in design, fashion and the arts. Pacific art is a dynamic, unique and growing sector whose artists need support and advice.

Pacific Music Archives

Another initiative I am particularly pleased about was the launch of the first Pacific Island Sound Archives in Otara recently.

The Archives will preserve and protect many hours of recordings Pacific music tapes and some 60 hours of the Tagata Tagata tapes from a 1992 expedition.

The music archives will form a library of both traditional and contemporary Pacific music. Without the $86,306 Government approved funding invaluable “living’ records of our cultural heritage would have been lost to our children.

Safeguarding our heritage is an important part of Pacific peoples identity in New Zealand and part of the richness that Pacific peoples have to contribute to this country’s future prosperity.

Changing How Government Does Business

Another government initiative concerns the way government agencies do business. A number of government agencies are also looking to make their generic ways of doing business more flexible and inclusive of Pacific peoples and their needs, and so monies that would have once been allocated to Pacific-specific initiatives has now been included in their general funding.

So we are continuing to make waves and impact on the way government agencies do their business in all areas - from policy-making via the Programmes of Action, through to implementation and monitoring. And everyone - Pacific peoples and general New Zealand, will benefit from this approach.

Lastly, I welcome the knowledge that the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs will have a more visible presence in the regions because of money in the Budget for community advisors.

These advisors will be contracted to the Ministry but will also work alongside Pacific communities, informing them about the government services available and helping them access those services. There are four to be appointed, including two here in Auckland.

The previous government closed down the smaller regional offices of the Ministry, causing distress amongst Pacific communities. I am proud to be part of a government that is reversing that trend and restoring the Ministry's regional presence.

In making this change, as with all the changes announced in and around the Budget, we are strengthening the relationship between Pacific communities and government, so that together we can build a strong, positive and healthy future for our families and our communities.

Thank you all, and now I welcome any comments or questions you may have.


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