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Laban: Opening of PIMA Conference


Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban
Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

10 October 2008 Speech

Opening of PIMA Conference

Auckland University of Technology, Wellesley Street, Auckland

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 morning.

It is fabulous to be here to join members and supporters of PIMA for your 2008 conference. I would particularly like to acknowledge the current executive committee members of PIMA and thank you all for your hard work, which has made this conference possible:
• Aaron Taouma, Chairman;
• Chris Lakatani, Vice Chairman;
• Eleanor Ikinofo, Print Rep; and
• Angelina Weir, Treasurer
• Associate Professor and Director of the Pacific Media Centre at AUT, David Robie.

Joining us today we have Race Relations Commissioner Joris de Bres and Sam Sefuiva from the Human Rights Commissioner; my Pacific Parliamentary colleagues Hon Vui Mark Goshce and Su'a William Sio; Dr Alan Cocker, Head of the School of Communications Studies, Pauline Winter, Director of AUT's Pasifika Advancement Office; and David Vaeafe from the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.

And I acknowledge and want to affirm and congratulate all of you, the faces, names, and voices so familiar to our communities because of the stories you tell through television, film, radio or publication. I also see new faces, whose voices and words I hope we will see and hear more of in the future.

Introduction – Pacific media in New Zealand today
PIMA was formed to support and develop Pacific people working in the media industry through training and advocacy, and to provide the opportunity to build partnerships with organisations and others that share this vision.

Today we have present many of the movers and the shakers of New Zealand’s media family, alongside the emerging Pacific talent. This is fantastic, and what PIMA and our Pacific communities are all about – supporting each other and working collectively – paddling our vaka in unison.

The Pacific media industry has so much to be proud of and I hope you know how proud we are of all of you. You inform, update, entertain and educate us on a daily basis about our Pacific people in New Zealand and the Pacific region, their lives, work and their many achievements. You are also our faces and voices on mainstream media.

Your work is recognised not only in the thousands of homes where your words are read and heard, but in industry events such as the Qantas Media Awards. Many of the names that appeared as 2008 winners are also listed at this conference – for example Spasifik Magazine a stalwart of reporting on New Zealand's Pacific news, who are now a decade young.

Pasifika in the media and national identity
New Zealand is a Pacific nation, with Pacific art, music, dance, languages and culture an integral part of our national identity.

The Labour government believes that New Zealand's Pacific communities should be able to hear and see their own voices, stories, music, languages and culture on television, radio and print media.

That is why we established and funded the National Pacific Radio Trust, which, in turn, launched Niu FM, New Zealand’s first national Pacific radio network and Radio 531 PI.

Government also provides funding for Pacific Island community radio services, through NZ on Air, enabling Pacific people’s culture and languages to be broadcast through stations like Samoa Capital Radio in Wellington.

NZ On Air funding has seen increased investment in television programmes that reflect New Zealand's Pacific diversity, such as Tagata Pasifika and bro'Town and movies like Sione's Wedding.

We are also working with our Niuean, Cook Island and Tokelauan communities to addresses concerns about low rates of language retention - leading to the development of resources and websites to encourage the learning and use of these beautiful languages.

As well as supporting Pacific broadcasting domestically, we have supported initiatives that benefit communities in the Pacific region. Communications to the Pacific play a vital role in our relationships in the region. For example Radio New Zealand International does a magnificent job of broadcasting both here and to our neighbours in the region.

Role of media
As media experts you can help all New Zealanders to see the world through Pacific lenses - to understand the Pacific way, and appreciate our values and knowledge and the enormous contribution our peoples make to our nation. You can continue to work together to ensure that Pacific stories and images reach the mainstream and that Pacific perspectives and values are taken into account in news production.

Many of us voice concerns about the ways in which Pacific peoples are represented as individuals and as groups. The stereotypes continue to be rolled out, as the frenzy engendered by reports of the Clydesdale research findings earlier this year showed only too graphically!

But there are also many more positive stories and view points that are getting through also – Tapu Misa offers an informed and considered view of a Pacific woman in a major New Zealand newspaper.

We’re all aware that news media anywhere in the world is a powerful force. It shapes and re-shapes public perceptions. It can – and frequently does – reinforce the negative and disempowering stereotypes.

So it’s important that, as Pacific media professionals, you ask yourselves what you can do to challenge and change those perceptions, to inform understandings that will shift those perceptions.

You can, for instance, change the narrow, one-dimensional view of a Pacific person, by reflecting us as we are - complex, multifaceted individuals who come from sacred genealogies and ancestry, take pride in our families, our diverse communities and our distinctive heritage, and in the many ways in which we enrich New Zealand today. New Zealand is a Pacific nation, she is part of the Pacific family and region – our home.

Labour is committed to preserving and promoting our unique Pacific identities, not only because it is a reflection of our cultural identity – but it is also a platform for the economic development of Pacific peoples.

We want to encourage more Pacific people to get involved in the production of Pacific programmes, based on the strong record of Pacific success in the arts.

There is a youthful and energetic Pacific population moving on up. Wouldn’t we all like to see them in the news as contributors, achievers, leaders and owners?

We need a critical mass of well-trained Pacific journalists and media technologists to tell our stories. And I congratulate the journalism and media studies schools including AUT’s Pacific Media Centre for nurturing learning, research, and scholarship in Pacific media studies and professional development.

Reporting the good news
There are so many good things happening in Pacific communities throughout New Zealand. It’s always heart-warming to hear the stories that do not get lost under a welter of negative statistics.

A story, for instance like that of Ko Na Nanu o te Tifa, the Hutt Valley Tokelau Youth Development Strategy, which I launched in Lower Hutt very recently.

It emerged from a sad story of loss - a number of youth suicides in the local community. The losses galvanised the community to work together on a strengths-based solution based on Tokelauan values of supportive love and sharing of responsibilities and benefits. Working with their young people the community developed a plan to encourage them on their paths through school, university or training, work, family, church and community responsibilities; plans to help them reach their potential as creative, confident and productive young adults and seniors.

We know that there are many unhappy Pacific stories out there. But we need a balanced approach to replace the negativity. We need to hear more stories about courage and perseverance, determination and steady success - stories and values that our forebears brought with them on their Pacific journeys.

We need to read about the stories that will make visible the many Pacific successes – in crime prevention, better health and successful business ventures; the leaders and how they got to their positions in business or government, in the academic, spiritual or creative sectors. We need to celebrate them. They are us and we are them.

Stories like that of Nathaniel Lees, whose ‘Pacific Starmap’ brainchild is now offering guidance and advice of established Pacific New Zealand artists like Nat, esteemed writer Professor Albert Wendt and film producer Sima Urale to our aspiring and emerging artists through the web. I like the concept of mentoring. Pacific peoples are peoples of the 'we' and note the 'me'.

In a global sense, too, we need the good stories filtered back to our Pacific communities.

Closing remarks
PIMA deserves praise for the way in which it fosters and stimulates interest in Pasifika, by its leadership and its advocacy.

It has become something of a rallying-point from which you – Pacific media – can help to shape New Zealand’s media landscape with a distinctively Pacific hand.

The theme of this year’s conference illustrates what we Pacific people know, but that we need to ensure that the rest of New Zealand is aware of –Pacific peoples are a force now and for the future! Remember, the present is the future.

I congratulate all members of the Pacific Island Media Association on your achievements so far, and I wish you great success in reaching their goals.

My warm thanks to the members of the PIMA Executive who have so efficiently organised the conference and welcomed us all here today.

Your programme is impressive and I look forward to hearing the outcomes of your discussions. I wish you all the best for a stimulating, thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable conference. Know that you are loved and supported. It is in paddling our vaka together that we will reach our destination for all our people.

It is now my great pleasure to declare the Pacific Island Media Association Conference 2008 open.

Soifua ma Ia Manuia.


ENDS

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