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Winnie Laban Address To St Bernard's Function

St Bernard's End of Year Pasifika Function

Our Labour Government understands the importance of education as the key that can unlock success, opportunity and fulfilment for our people.

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

Thank you for your warm introduction and a heart felt thank you for inviting me to your end of year farewell graduation for Pasifika students.

Welcome to all our guests here today and I would particularly like to acknowledge:

- All the senior students here this evening, especially those leaving school;
- Head Boy, Jospeh Olive;
- Members of the Board of Trustees;
- Members of the Samoan Parents' Support Group;
- Father Pene Patelehio and Father Maleko
- Peter Fava and staff of St Bernard's College;
- Parents and families

It is a real pleasure to be here this evening to celebrate the successes of the Pasifika students of St Bernard's as this year draws to a close.

I speak to you today as the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and as a proud woman of the Pacific, and a proud New Zealander.

I would like to speak about the importance of education for our young Pacific people in New Zealand, but first I want to pay a special tribute to the parents.

You have a hard job but an important job - the most important job: to raise your children, provide them with a set of values that will see them through their lives, to support them as they grow and develop, and then trust them to make their own decisions in life.

I think the hardest part of being a parent is letting you children grow and go. Parents can do that with confidence if they have provided their children with a clear set of values.

Pacific Island people have particular set of cultural values. These values have been passed down by our ancestors through our families and our communities.

Young men like Head Boy Joseph (Sefa) Olive are the ones who benefit from your contribution. How proud you all must be of him and his fellow students as they approach the end of their secondary schooling and set off into a great future.

Out there they will join other old boys of St Bernard's who excel in so many fields; Afa Sanerivi in the profession of accounting, his brother Oka in physiotherapy, or engineering like David Hoffman. I understand that Jacob Time is working in the legal field; Pene Paia is just completing his electrical apprenticeship, and Isitolo Alesana has graduated from the Whitereia Performing Arts School.

These old boys are have succeeded and achieved. You can be proud of them, and learn from them.

All parents want the best for their children. It is the government's job to support those goals, and help make them a reality.

Education underpins all the goals we have for New Zealand's future, and the goals we have for all people in New Zealand.

Our Labour Government understands the importance of education as the key that can unlock success, opportunity and fulfilment for our people.

Our Labour government has shown leadership in education. We have delivered 20 hours free early childhood education as we know that a child who attends early childhood education has a much better chance at succeeding in school and later life.

We have launched the new education curriculum, the result of years of work. 15,000 New Zealanders were involved and over 10,000 submissions were written on the final draft. This was an enormous task and I am sure we have come up with a workable, concise and forward looking curriculum that will give students all the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century.

Many of our fabulous senior students here today will be enrolling in tertiary study in the coming years.

Our government has reformed the tertiary sector to make it more relevant to the needs of learners and the needs of our society and economy. We are proud of what we have achieved.

We are also proud of introducing no interest on student loans. This policy is saving our students and graduates literally $100s of dollars each year and is keeping our brightest students in New Zealand.

Let me talk a little more about the importance of education for young Pacific people.

Low achievement levels are still prevalent amongst Pacific students but the future is looking positive. The number of Pacific children in early childhood education is growing faster than for any other group.

The number of Pasifika children leaving school with no qualification is shrinking faster than for any other group. The percentage of Pacific children leaving school with NCEA level two is growing faster than for any other group.

The number of Pacific people participating in tertiary degrees, and in modern apprenticeships, is growing faster than for any other group.

There is room for improvement and this is something we can work on collaboratively.

Education is a key factor in achieving economic and social outcomes for Pacific communities and improving Pacific peoples' contribution to the New Zealand economy.

Sixty per cent of New Zealand's Pasifika community was born in New Zealand and that population is young. You make up part of this 60 per cent. This means the future of New Zealand is in your hands!

High Pacific achievement at all levels of education results in a highly skilled Pacific workforce. You, our young Pacific people are vibrant, full of aspiration and have a great future ahead of you.

The Labour-led government wants to ensure that you are all equipped to play a part in our high income, knowledge-based economy of the future. We all need to work hard together to ensure that Pacific people are moving into higher income and higher skilled jobs so that we can all share in New Zealand's future successes.

To the students hear today, today is a time for us to celebrate your hard work this year. You should be very proud of your achievements. I know that you have bright futures ahead of you, and I look forward to hearing of the great work you will go on to do to shape Pacific communities of the future.

Ia manuia lava. Soifua.

ends

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