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Pasifika Festival – a time to reflect on 20th anniversary

Su’a William Sio
Pacific Island Affairs Spokesperson
MP for Mangere

9 February 2012

Pasifika Festival – a time to reflect on 20th anniversary

This year’s Pasifika Festival gives us an opportunity to thank the Pacific community for their contribution to New Zealand society and to reflect on ways we can improve the lives of our people, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.

Labour Leader David Shearer, Māngere MP Su’a William Sio and a number of other MPs will attend celebrations this weekend, marking the 20th anniversary of the festival.

“This is a significant milestone considering the difficulties getting the event off the ground all those years ago and the on-going battle around funding and sponsorship. Despite those challenges, the Pacific community has held strong and today we are able to enjoy a wonderful celebration of culture, language, food, talent and creativity.

“The Pasifika Festival has become a well-known, iconic event for the Pacific region and there will be plenty of international businesses, artists and community groups taking part in the celebration. In addition to the economic benefits, the festival brings significant social benefits for Pacific people in terms of networking, connecting and sharing life experiences.

“The 20 year milestone is also a good time to reflect on where we are as a community in Aotearoa New Zealand. Population reports highlight the fact that Pacific and Māori in particular have the highest youth populations, which has significant ramifications in terms of the future workforce and future wellbeing of retiring New Zealanders.

“With high unemployment, we need to find ways to support our young people so they have access to training opportunities and can secure well-paying jobs. This is vital to supporting our families and sustaining our culture in a difficult economic environment.

“Times are tough for many Pacific families. We must ask how we sustain our cultural values and whether we can continue with the same old customs and practices during our fa’alavelave, or is there a need for change?

“It’s also a good time to take stock of where we have come from, where we are now, what kind of a society we want to create in future and what legacy we want to pass onto the next generation,” said Su’a William Sio

ENDS

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