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Taito Phillip Field: Correction's Pacific Strategy

Department of Correction's Pacific Strategy Launch 2005-2008

I am pleased to be here today to join with you to launch the Department of Corrections' Pacific Strategy 2005-2008.

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Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo e lelei, Ni sa bula vinaka, Na maste, Talofa lava, Taloha ni, Talofa, Noa'ia, Kia ora koutou, and welcome to you all.

I am pleased to be here today to join with you to launch the Department of Corrections' Pacific Strategy 2005-2008.
I would like to acknowledge the presence of the High Commissioner for the Cook Islands Dr Robert Woonton, and the Deputy Mayor of Manukau City Anne Candy.

Pacific peoples are culturally and ethnically diverse. It is estimated that Pacific peoples living in New Zealand represent over 20 different Polynesian, Melanesian and Micronesian cultures, speaking an even greater number of languages.

Pacific peoples have been in New Zealand for over 100 years. In 1945, Pacific people made up 0.1 per cent of New Zealand's population. Today Pacific peoples comprise six per cent of the country's total population and it is a population that is growing. By 2051, it is projected that Pacific peoples will make up 12 per cent of the population.

Sadly Pacific peoples are disproportionately represented in prison and this is forecast to continue because to the youthfulness of the Pacific population. The Department's Pacific Strategy aims to reverse this trend.

To prevent our people, especially our young, spending long periods in prison, we as a community must work with the Department to implement this strategy.

As my colleague the Minister of Corrections outlined, much was achieved in the last three years with the Department's Pacific Strategy 2002-2005.

One of the key initiatives in the last strategy was the development of the Saili Matagi Violence Prevention Programme tailored for Pacific offenders. It is a sad fact that many of our males are in prison for violent crimes.

The Department developed the Saili Matagi programme specifically for these offenders.

Saili Matagi literally means "in search of winds" and describes the need to catch good winds for smooth sailing, or one's search for a better outcome of a problem. Saili Matagi aims to assist Pacific offenders to change the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that resulted in their violent offending and to enhance Pacific offenders responsiveness to other programmes targeting criminal behaviour.

The programme incorporates Western treatment components with Pacific cultural values, beliefs and concepts that are familiar to Pacific offenders. Initial results indicate that Saili Matagi is working. Its results compare favourably with other violence prevention programmes like the Violence Prevention Unit at Rimutaka Prison.

Since the inception of the first Pacific Strategy the Department of Corrections has undertaken a number of initiatives to involve Pacific peoples in the Department's work. It has implemented the Chief Executive's Pacific Advisory Group to provide direct advice and feedback to the Chief Executive on strategic, policy and operational issues that affect Pacific communities.

The Fautua Pasefika specified visitors policy is another important initiative developed in the last strategy. Fautua Pasefika are people of Pacific descent who through commendation by their community or organisation have been granted access to inmates of Pacific descent to provide support and advise on a range of issues.

The Pacific Peoples Regional Corrections Liaison Committee has been established to provide Pacific communities in Auckland the opportunity to have input into the building of the Auckland Region Women's Corrections Facility and the Spring Hill Corrections Facility.

The Department has also developed a framework for the evaluation of Pacific programmes and services to ensure that funded Pacific-focused services will, from the first day of operation, generate data that promotes both programme integrity and on-going programme improvement.

The new Pacific Strategy 2005-2008 will continue to progress and consolidate initiatives established under the previous strategy, but will also introduces an opportunity to further enhance the Department's capability to contribute to creating positive outcomes for Pacific peoples.

I know many of you have been directly involved in the development of this strategy and I would like to thank you for your work. The Strategy was a collaborative effort between the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and extensive consultation with Pacific communities throughout the country took place through Community Reference Groups and the Pacific Peoples Regional Corrections Liaison Committee. The Pacific Strategy is a product of collaboration between government and the community and demonstrates a genuine goodwill to improve the position of Pacific peoples in New Zealand.

Our parents and grandparents made a great sacrifice leaving loved ones when they immigrated to New Zealand. They did this because New Zealand offered them, their children and their children's children an opportunity that was not available in the Islands. They did not come here to see them waste their lives in Prison.

In conclusion, let us remember the guiding statement of this new strategy: My strength does not come from me alone, but many. We all have a role to play to ensure that this strategy is a success. If we successfully rehabilitate our Pacific offenders in prison and successfully reintegrate them back into our community we can reduce the number of Pacific people in prison, reduce re-offending and create fewer victims.

ENDS

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