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A positive future for Pacific families in NZ

Hon Georgina te Heuheu

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

3 November 2009
Media Statement

A positive future for Pacific families in NZ

Pacific communities have the strength and strong sense of family and commitment to tackle issues and help create the environment that builds great families and a better New Zealand, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina te Heuheu said today.

In a speech to a families forum ”Our Home – Our Future’, organised by the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs and the Families Commission, she said the focus of the forum on building a positive future for Pacific families in New Zealand was in line with the Government’s approach to Pacific communities.

The Minister congratulated the organisers, researchers and Pacific leaders who had brought the forum together to debate two important pieces of research.

The first is: Pasifika Families – South Auckland Pacific Youth and Gangs: family, leadership and the future a paper by Dr Camille Nakhid, Tupetoa Ronji Tanielu and Efeso Collins.

The second is: Pacific Languages Strategy: Key Issues by Professor Stephen May of the School of Education at the University of Waikato.

“From such research comes understanding and from understanding comes the power to make positive change,” Mrs te Heuheu said.

“I am particularly pleased that the focus today has not been just to look at some of the issues facing Pacific families in New Zealand, but to move that debate forward with a view to building an increasingly positive future.

“One of the great strengths of Pacific communities is the strong sense of family and the ties that bring us together throughout communities here and across the Pacific region.

“Families must build on that strength to face the challenges of young people becoming involved in gangs.

“It is important we understand why young people appear to turn their backs on the values of their families and become involved in groups that seem so contrary to the positive wellbeing of families and communities. And, perhaps more important, we want to know how we can keep youngsters from hooking into these groups in the first place.”

Mrs te Heuheu said supporting Pacific languages and culture was important to building strong, cohesive and resilient Pacific families.

“Speaking one’s own language and being immersed in one’s culture provides a strong platform for building strong families, improving educational outcomes and contributes to a strong and vibrant New Zealand.”

ENDS

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