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Laban: Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Strategy

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

29 September, 2008
Launch of Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Strategy

Launch of the Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Development Strategy, Te Umiumiga a Tokelau Hutt Valley Hall, Clendon Street, Naenae

Fakatulou atu kite mamalu o Tokelau kua fakatahi mai ite aho nei.

Fakaalofa lahi atu, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, 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 morning.

It is wonderful to be able to join you today and share in your celebration. As I look around the room I see the faces of the young people, parents, families and elders from the Tokelauan community who are showing their pride in the Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Strategy by their presence here today.

I bring with me the greetings of our Prime Minister Helen Clark. I also have a message to deliver to you from Youth Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta who would very much have liked to be here to jointly launch the Strategy with me.

I wish to thank our Master of Ceremony Aleki Silao and Tyson Perez. I acknowledge all honoured guests including:

* - His Worship the Mayor of Hutt City, David Ogden
* - Members of the two lead partners in the Strategy project, Te Umiumiga a Tokelau Hutt Valley and Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports and Culture Association.
* - Families and friends from the Tokelau community.
* - All those who have contributed to the success of the project.
* - And I would especially like to acknowledge all the young people and children of the Tokelau community whose talents we are celebrating on this occasion.

Young people face many challenges today, in the rapid rate of technological, social and cultural change, in the pressures of the global economy. This is the reality of the 21st century - and it has been a reality for all of us as we have grown and adapted to new worlds.

These challenges can be daunting; they are also exciting and can open up many new opportunities.

The new Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Strategy has been developed to support and encourage our young people as they face these challenges.

It is underpinned by a strengths-based approach, it emphasises the positives, celebrates our peoples leadership and achievement, it emphasises the need for youth to be connected, and it celebrates the voice and active participation of young people in the whole project and in planning their futures.

They're important principles that recognise too the nature of the Pacific world view, the value Pacific peoples place on relationships, reciprocity, and looking after our own.

We know that the Pacific population as a whole in New Zealand is youthful, diverse and fast growing. Census 2006 showed the median age for all Pacific peoples was 21 years, considerably lower than the New Zealand population overall at nearly 36 years of age. For Tokelauan people, the median age was almost 19 years - so you have a much younger population still.

Making it all the more important that we all focus on developing existing strengths, providing new opportunities and encouraging our young people into fruitful, rewarding paths for their futures, those of their people and our nation.

To the young people here today - your new Tokelau Youth Development Strategy will help you realise how many options there are out there, it will help to guide decisions about goals, and to discover how you can reach them. You will find how to make your choices, what services and support networks are available, and how you can tap into them.

As a community and as a government, we know that our young people have enormous potential and there is plenty of resources and support available to enhance their lives, their health, their safety and wellbeing, their education and career prospects, and their families.

Remember that you can succeed in anything you put your mind to. Do not limit yourselves - find out about the fields that interest you, be it arts or sports, business, information technology, research, trades. Don't be afraid to try them out, and to look elsewhere if it turns out that's not quite your thing. Every experience along the way is valuable, opening up new interests and enriching your lives.

The journeys our parents and great grandparents took to New Zealand in many ways symbolise the journeys young people take through life. With the good wishes and hopes of their families in their Pacific homelands, they travelled far, overcame obstacles, learnt much, made sacrifices, worked hard - and grew older and wiser!

They benefited from the great strength and unity of their families and their communities, the traditions of support and sharing that held them together, helped them survive and motivated them to move forward in life.

One of the most striking features of this project is the whole-of-community effort. It's been conceived, driven and completed from within the community. Tokelauans here in the Hutt Valley have voluntarily addressed the issues their young people faced, and set up an initiative that will enable them to grow in confidence and ability.

It's a project that's been completed with remarkable efficiency and thoroughness, and will entail lots of work for a number of years. But for those who are taking part the rewards will be worth it.

The development of the Strategy has all the hallmarks of successful a partnership - the product of work by the Tokelauan community organisations, families and individuals, the churches, the council and government departments and agencies and private sector organisations.

And together, the five strands of the new Strategy address all aspects of life, learning, work, cultural development, family values and community participation.

I've said before that Pacific people are voyagers and discoverers. They have an innate ability to plot a course, steer it and then make a great success of what they do when they arrive.

So it's appropriate that we're gathered here to celebrate the launch of the Strategy. It was after all, to Petone and the Hutt Valley that so many of first settlers from Tokelau travelled. It was here they brought their dreams and aspirations for a new life after the cyclone destroyed much of their livelihoods in their island home.

I know that a special name, Ko Na Nanu o te Tifa, has been gifted to the Strategy by the community, and that it signifies much more than it seems on the surface. The Mother-of-Pearl shell has many layers. Those under the outer layers have a special, iridescent glow and rich colours. But it often takes time and a lot of care to work the shell for those special qualities to be revealed.

That is how I see young Pacific people - they have unique qualities and are often quite modest about them. With care and attention they can and will reach their full potential, to the benefit of their families and new generations of Pacific New Zealanders.

When I look around here, I see a community united in pride at what it's achieved - and you have every right to feel proud. It is only two years since I attended and spoke at the initial workshops, and a huge community effort has gone into producing this Strategy over that time.

Congratulations to the two leading groups in the Youth Development project, Te Umiumiga a Tokelau Incorporated and Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports and Culture Association; and to all those involved in placing each of the building blocks - taking part in the consultation, feeding in views and suggestions, developing plans and activities, providing finance, resources, materials and advice - and the precious gifts of time and love.

I would now like to pass on a message from the Youth Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta.

Malo ni,

I regret that I am not able to attend the launch today of the Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Development Strategic Action Plan. However, I would like to congratulate Te Umiumiga, the Tokelau Hutt Valley Sports and Culture Association, youth groups and wider communities involved in producing this strategic plan for improving the lives of Tokelauan young people.

In order for Tokelauan young people to realise their full potential, education and employment is critical, as well as a focus on retaining and reviving your culture.

This five year plan provides an important platform for addressing these areas - connecting our young people to their environments, whether through family/whanau, the community, school/work, and peers, and supporting the positive development and sustainability of the Tokelau community.

It is also great to see the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa being used as a foundation for identifying what young Tokelauans in the Hutt need to improve their opportunities - building on the strengths of young people through a number of action points.

For example;

* in the education area, I applaud the plan to facilitate training for public speaking and leadership skills.

* in creative arts - coordinating a workshop for Tokelau young people to showcase their talents using information and communications technology.

Once again, congratulations on the launch of your strategic action plan, and my best wishes for implementing its actions in the Tokelauan community. Working together, I know you can make a real difference.

Formal launch

Today you witness the fulfilment of an ambitious, positive and forward-looking project.

It is now my very great pleasure to formally launch Ko Na Nanu o te Tifa: the Tokelau Hutt Valley Youth Development Strategy 2008-2013. May it light the way for the bright futures of our young people.

Kae ke manuia koutou uma I te Alofa o te Atua.

Fakafetai Lahi lele.


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