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We should be proud of our Pasifika Connections

We should be proud of our Pasifika Connections says Maori Party

Hon Tariana Turia, Co-leader of the Maori Party; Tuesday 20 May 2008

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia has today scorned a report which describes Pasifika peoples as ‘an under-class’, which “is of concern given the higher fertility rates of this group”.

“Every mention of Pasifika peoples in this report is negative” said Mrs Turia.

“The report describes Pasifika peoples as being the “highest unemployed in every age group”; over-represented in justice statistics with higher rates of conviction and prosecution; less productive and less likely to contribute to economic growth and so it goes on”.

“In fact the writer of the report postulates that the only benefits of diversity would appear to be “for products that lend themselves to fusion of cultural form, for example, cooking, fashion and music”.

“As Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs recently said, researchers should stop describing the problem and help to find solutions” said Mrs Turia. “Gone are the days when we allow so-called experts to get out their microscopes and dissect ethnic issues from their own eurocentric world view” said Mrs Turia.

“We know that solutions are most effective when determined by their own communities” said Mrs Turia.

“Understanding Pasifika perspectives, respecting their leadership and direction, and being prepared to learn from them would be a far more constructive way of reporting on this apparent ‘Polynesian problem'” said Mrs Turia.

“We have to remember that we are all peoples of the Pacific” said Mrs Turia. “Tangata whenua have always been proud to work with Pasifika peoples, valuing their distinctive knowledges, worldviews and histories” said Mrs Turia.

“It’s ironic that everyone seems to value the All Blacks, the Kiwis and our elite sportspeople competing in the Olympic and Commonwealth Games arenas, and yet I wonder whether we appreciate the enormous impact our Pasifika whanaunga make in these fields - as indeed they do right across our society” said Mrs Turia.

“While we recognise that Maori and Pasifika peoples certainly experience disadvantage in education, employment and the wider economy, the challenge must surely lie in addressing the systematic barriers that create these disparities - and for researchers to have the courage to analyse and report on uncomfortable issues such as racism and prejudice head on”.

“Ironically, the Growing Pains report actually identifies that one of the reasons for poor market performance is discrimination (p6)” said Mrs Turia. “The writer might have been far better off exploring how to address discrimination, than simply rehashing worn out stereotypes around Pasifika peoples”.

“The report has raised one question however which deserves an answer” said Mrs Turia. “What will the Government do to invest in Pacific communities in order to best maximise their considerable talents?’.


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