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Narratives for Pacific Peoples

Pacific Islands Affairs Minister
Hon. Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

Narratives for Pacific Peoples

Our Labour-led government knows that New Zealand succeeds when our Pacific families are strong and thriving. We have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation of the contribution that our Pacific peoples have made to New Zealand.

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E muamua ona ou ta le vai afei ma ou fa'atulou atu i le paia lasilasi ua fa'atasi mai. Tulouna lo outou tupua Sä, outou tupua tausi, ma ö outou tupua tumau.

Le pa'ia tele i le Aufaigäluega a le Atua, le pa'ia o atunuu o le Pasefika ua potopoto mai i lenei aso. Ou te fa'atalofa atu i le Paia ma le Mamalu o le aofia.

Fa'afetai tele mo lenei avanoa ua tatou fesilafa'i ai, i le lagi e mamä, ae lë o le ta'ape o päpä. Ia i le Atua lona lava viiga e fa'avavau lava.

E nga iwi o te motu, te tangata whenua. Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste, Kia orana, Ia Orana, Gud de tru olgeta, Taloha ni, Talofa, Kia ora tatou and Warm Pacific Greetings to you all.

Thank you Don Campbell for your warm introduction and a heart felt thank you to Strong Pasifika Families for inviting me to speak at this inaugural celebration honouring you, our Pacific pioneers.

A warm welcome to all our guests here today and I would particularly like to acknowledge:
* His Excellency Asi Tuiataga James Blackelock, High Commissioner of Samoa
* The Ngati Toa Iwi
* Don Campbell and the Directors, Deans, Managers and Staff of Whitireia Community Polytechnic - particularly the Whitireia Maori Faculty
* Dignitaries from around the Pacific and our Church Ministers
* Our young Pacific peoples here today, and all our participants willing to share their stories
* and also to our guests and visitors from other regions.

I am humbled to be the representative in Parliament of the people of this community - which is one of the most active, hard working, committed and vibrant communities in our country. As a woman of the Pacific and a proud New Zealander, I am privileged to be here with you today and have the opportunity to stop and reflect on how valuable our elders are to us as Pacific people.

I would like to acknowledge the recent passing of one of Samoa's great woman leaders - La'ulu Fetauimalemau Mata'afa. La'ulu, as she was known to her friends around the world, was a courageous leader and a great role model for women in Samoa and the wider South Pacific.

La'ulu was actively involved in education, politics and womens and community affairs. She was extremely intelligent, a great leader, full of grace and worked hard for all people. La'ulu will be very much missed.

In my maiden speech to Parliament in February 2000, I shared the legacy and the success stories of the generation of Pacific Islanders, including La'ulu and my parents, which led me to where I am today.

We are forever grateful to our elders for their contribution and the sacrifices they made to make this nation a wonderful place for us to live. I know each and every one of you in this room have a story to tell on your journey to this land, the place that had moulded, influenced and nurtured the minds and hearts of our new generation of young Pacific people making their unique mark on Aotearoa.

Pacific people have particular set of cultural values. These values have been passed down by our ancestors through our families and our communities. As a Samoan, I know my community is based on families and extended families. The Samoan words are aiga, aigapotopoto.

Our community in turn is based on the Samoan values of alofa, fa'aaloalo, and agaga - love, respect, reciprocity and spirituality. These values are demonstrated through tautua - service.

I know that our other Pacific Island communities are based on similar values. Like many Pacific Islanders, my parents left their homes, families and country to come to New Zealand and provide their children with education and opportunity. They worked hard so that we could succeed.

Theirs was the immigrant's dream. A dream that is shared by all who have come to this land. They wanted to be part of this nation, to participate as equals in this society.

New Zealand is now our place of belonging in the Pacific.

Today is a day of celebration of your journey and your strength that has endowed us, your children and grandchildren with the inspiration and motivation to continue to build on your successes.

As we celebrate the past, let us also look to the future. Our people play a significant role in continuing to give a Pacific face to the diversity of New Zealand's national identity. An estimated 265,974 Pacific peoples now live in New Zealand, making up around 7.2 per cent of the population.

The 2006 Census shows that all our Pacific ethnic groups have very youthful populations. Pacific people are young, vibrant, full of aspiration and have a great future ahead of them - thanks to the opportunities and strong communities created by you - our pioneers.

The Labour Party has a strong history of working with, and advocating for Pacific people. We embrace the Pacific values that underpin hard work, the value of education, and the importance of families, both close and extended.

Under this Labour-led government, Pacific people have made real gains. Pacific unemployment has dropped down from 14.9 per cent in 1999 to 5.5 per cent in 2007. Working for Families is increasing the incomes of thousands of our families. KiwiSaver is making it easier for all families to save for their future and the price of going to the doctor has dramatically reduced for our people and our children.
We are making a real and positive difference to our Pacific children and their families with 20 hours Free Early Childhood Education, saving families up to $4500 a year per child. Our government is focused on raising educational participation and achievement for Pasifika students. We have wiped interest on student loans for our tertiary students and we have provided funding to revive Pacific languages.
Our Labour-led government knows that New Zealand only succeeds when our Pacific families are strong and thriving - and we have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation of the contribution that our Pacific peoples have made to New Zealand.

Many of our young people today are faced with an exciting new dilemma. Instead of looking for jobs and worrying about how to put food on the table, Pacific people are thinking about starting new businesses, buying a home, or doing tertiary study. This is because of the sacrifice and strong contribution of you, our elders and leaders, who have played a pivotal role in the development and progress of our Pacific communities.

Your motivation and inspiration has supported and promoted the wellbeing of our Pacific people, who are the foundation on which our families and communities are built.

Our government is committed to strengthening and nurturing relationships of our Pacific communities and the government. We recognise the passion, effort and struggle of our people and I am confident that we will continue to provide leadership and excellent role models for our younger generations.

I was recently honoured and humbled to be appointed Minister of Pacific Island Affairs. This provides me with a great opportunity to build on the huge economic and social gains made by Pacific people under the Labour-led government. I intend to continue to advocate for the interests of our communities so that our voice and influence is heard and felt in every corner of the political spectrum.

We can do more to ensure that Pacific people are equipped to share in New Zealand's future success, such as moving our people into higher income and higher skilled jobs. This is why as Minister I am particularly looking forward to working on advancing the Pacific Economic Action Plan and the Pacific Women's Economic Development Plan. These plans have specific measurable milestones for our people and I am looking forward to working with the community, the private sector and government agencies to meet these.

These plans form a part of the Labour-led government's Economic Transformation agenda and aim to harness the enormous potential and prosperity of Pacific people in New Zealand over the next decade.
I would like to thank our Pacific pioneers for making our communities and nation something we can be very proud of. You paved the way for the future of our nation and Pacific peoples and I look forward to hearing your stories, your successes, accomplishments and achievements.

Remain true to our Pacific values and beliefs in our Christian foundation, the cornerstone of our nation, founded upon God. I have no doubt you will continue to provide the wisdom and leadership that continues to inspire and guide our young people and future generations.

Congratulations to all those who have worked tremendously hard on today's celebrations, particularly Ester Temukisa Laban, co-ordinator for the Narratives, and the community helpers and volunteers who have made this event possible. You have given us an opportunity to reunite and to remind us of the courage, determination and perseverance of our Pacific heroes.

Soifua ma ia Manuia.

ENDS

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