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Pacific business leaders strive for greater participation


6 September 2013

For immediate release

Pacific business leaders strive for greater Pacific participation in New Zealand economy

Business leaders of Pacific descent gathered on Thursday 5th September, to discuss the issues relevant to the Pacific community’s participation in and contribution to the New Zealand economy.

The Pacific Business Leaders Dinner, hosted by the Pacific Business Trust (PBT), was held at the University of Auckland’s Fale Pasifika. Guest speaker was Toeolesulusulu Damon Salesa, Associate Professor of Pacific Studies at the university.

Mr Salesa urged the Pacific businesses in attendance to play their part in helping New Zealand’s young Pacific population reach their potential. As a board member at a secondary school in East Auckland, where the majority of students are of Pacific descent, he fears the significant tech-savvy talent they display needs nurturing and support to be fulfilled.

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Hon. Hekia Parata said it was encouraging to see so many prominent Pacific business people come together to discuss how to increase Pacific participation in the New Zealand economy.

“It has been magnificent. It’s important for networks like this to come together to share experiences and opportunities. Pacific businesses are going to make an even more significant contribution over time,” she says.

“The Pacific Business Trust has been performing from very small beginnings, but is increasingly growing the momentum around Pacific enterprise and innovation.”

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Successful New Zealand business people of Pacific descent were in attendance including Ulu Aiono, founder of Cogita Holdings, Rowena Bryce, Head of Systems at ASB Bank and Isi Tupou, Director of Investments, Rank Group.

The evening also provided an opportunity to honour the internationally acclaimed achievements of Adrian Orr, who was the 2001 Pacific Business Person of the Year at the Pacific Business Awards. Of Cook Islands descent, Mr Orr is CEO of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, named the world’s most innovative sovereign fund in the Sovereign Wealth Fund category at the 2012 aiCIO Industry Innovation Awards.

Mr Orr showed his pride in his Pacific heritage and the challenge for Pacific people in the context of the New Zealand economy.

“To be honoured by the Pacific community in this is very special for me,” he says.

“Bringing top business people together, where we can talk to each other, put the issues on the table and help build networks, is exactly the right thing to be doing.

“Let’s see if we can work together, put some capital together and see if we can grow some of the great ideas from businesses that are in this room.”

PBT chair Selma Scott paid tribute to Mr Orr.

“Adrian Orr stands as a beacon to us because of the great heights he has scaled. He is showing the way for other Pacific business people,” she says.

“With people like Adrian and other successful business people here tonight, combined with the practical assistance we can provide at PBT, we can sow the seed to become prosperous contributors to New Zealand.”

Ms Scott also thanked the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and Frances Hartnell from True Pacific, for providing the food for a sumptuous meal prepared by John Oyagawa and his team, PBT’s regular caterer.


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