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Laban: Wgtn Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

8 September, 2008
Tu Tangata: Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival

Opening of Tu Tangata: Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival, TSB Arena, Jervois Quay, Wellington

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 this evening.

It is absolutely fantastic to be here tonight for the Tu Tangata Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival 2008. This is an event a always look forward to, showcasing our young, vibrant and beautiful Polynesian youth – who we all know have bright futures ahead of them.

I would like to thank our MC Tofiga Fepuea’I for his warm welcome and Reverend Lesley Solomona for our blessing.

A big thank you to the hardworking members of the Tu Tangata Komiti, led by Bessie Fepulea’i and Gabby Makisi, whose dedication and commitment has made this event possible.

I acknowledge all our honoured guests here this evening, Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon, all our church and Pacific community leaders who are present, members of the Wellington City Council, school principals, heads of the government agencies, parents, friends, and, of course the stars of the night – the Wellington secondary student performers, our Mission Choir and former Tu Tangata members.

Significance of the occasion
The 30th Tu Tangata Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival is a credit to founder Kara Puketapu, a former Secretary of Māori and Pacific Island Affairs. Kara saw the festivals as a way of showcasing the enormous skills and talents of Māori and Pacific young people - he recognised the opportunity this provided for management and leadership experience and increasing levels of achievement for our young peoples.

In 2008 we are celebrating 30 years of the best of Pacific performing arts, culture and creativity. This is a fabulous milestone.

Tu Tangata is a keenly awaited highlight of the cultural calendar for the secondary schools taking part and for all who love the sights and sounds of the Pacific.

I know that all of you will have put in many months and hours into perfecting your performances. Tonight you will reap the rewards of all that hard work.

New Zealand is a Pacific nation - we are all people of the Pacific, with our cultures, history and traditions an integral part of New Zealand’s national identity.

As Pacific peoples we recognise the significance of heritage in our lives. We know that we stand where we are today because our parents and grandparents took journeys that required great courage.

These were the people who left their Pacific homes to travel to a new life in New Zealand. They brought with them the traditions, beliefs and values of their ancestors and their communities. And they brought hopes and dreams for their future generations.

So when you perform tonight, you are speaking through your music and dance not only to your families and friends in New Zealand in the 21st century. You are also paying tribute to those who came before you - they will have sung and danced, like you, to express joy and pride in their cultural traditions.

Government commitment
Our Labour-led government understands and values the contribution of our Pacific cultures which have helped shape the New Zealand of today. We know that it is vitally important to preserve and support the traditions and languages that define those cultures.

The declining use of Pacific languages in New Zealand has come to the point where transmission between generations has almost ceased. So we want to ensure that you – the new generations – have the privilege of speaking your own beautiful Pacific languages.

With this in mind, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has developed resources under the successful “Mind Your Language” (MYL) project.

The MYL multi-level language resources and three new interactive websites (which will be launched over the next two months) introduce learners to the Cook Island, Tokelauan and Niuean languages and promote their use.

We also value the contribution that the creative industries make to our social, economic and cultural wellbeing. We want to enhance opportunities for Pacific peoples to channel their creativity, energy and talents into successful careers and business opportunities.

I recently had the honour of launching Pacific Starmap, an exciting online resource to help navigate pathways in the creative sector, with the support and advice of 'Pacific Stars' such as writer Professor Albert Wendt, actor Nathaniel Lees and film director Sima Urale.

Pacific Starmap is a hub where new and emerging artists can start or develop their careers, somewhere they can seek and find advice from established artists, information about training opportunities, business development, and funding sources.

If you are thinking of building a career in the creative and performing arts, then taking part in Tu Tangata could well be the spark that gets it going. You’ll find lots of support out there on all steps of your journey, and if you want some inspiration, you’ll find your pathway lit by Pacific stars – so I encourage you all to visit

Pacific youth and the Tu Tangata Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival
The Tu Tangata Festival reflects the face of our Pacific in New Zealand. It’s a population that is young, diverse and fast-growing - it’s versatile, energetic, innovative and capable of achieving anything.

More of our Pacific young people are leaving school with qualifications - this is a very encouraging trend and we want to see even more of you achieving those qualifications, and using them to make even greater gains in your lives.

I encourage all young people here tonight to seize any opportunity to extend yourselves, to go on achieving at school, get whatever qualifications you can, in areas that interest and excite you, and then use them to extend yourselves at university, polytechnics or on-the-job training. There’s a place there for you in the global economy of the 21st century - make sure you equip yourselves to take it.

A pathway that some of you maybe interested in finding out more about is the opportunities available in the Modern Apprenticeship scheme. On the 25th of September the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs will be launching 'The Apprentice' campaign to inform Pacific young people and their families about the opportunities available through apprenticeships – and how to take them up once they’ve identified a craft or trade they’re interested in.

The launch is open to all Wellington students and will be held at Wellington College. We would love to see our Pacific students and their families there – and particularly our female students.

We know girls can do anything, and there are some great opportunities for those of you thinking about becoming builders or engineers.

A key aspect of 'The Apprentice' is the role models – Pacific people who are currently undergoing trades training in the workplace, or have completed their modern apprenticeship and are now earning good money and maybe even own their own business. It's about providing an opportunity for our young people to ask questions, find out what's involved, and what the benefits are.

We want to encourage this support for our young people in any pathway that they choose. We all have a role to play in supporting and developing our young people to reach their full potential because their success is crucial to our nation's success.

I encourage all our young people to keep on learning, and put your learning to good use for yourselves, your families and your communities – and ultimately for the good of New Zealand.

Closing remarks
We owe much to the devoted members of the Tu Tangata Komiti of teachers and students, who will be drawing great sighs of satisfaction now that this wonderful evening has arrived.

Their work is generously supported each year by their parents, by volunteers, stakeholders and sponsors, who show their commitment to the young, to the future wellbeing of New Zealand and its culture, and to the place of Pacific traditions within our nation, by providing grants, scholarships and ongoing support in kind.

Most of all, my warm congratulations to the seven schools, each of which represents a whole community of principals, teachers, support staff, students and families, and who together show such whole-hearted commitment to the festivals.

I’m sure you’re all itching to get onto the stage and prove your mettle, in the music, movement, colour and excitement of this festival.

So I won't keep you waiting, it is now my absolute pleasure to formally open the Tu Tangata Wellington Secondary Schools Polynesian Festival for 2008!


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