Kia ora koutou, Talofa lava. My acknowledgements and warm Pacific greetings to you all.
It is an honour to join with you today as you turn your minds to building your collective vision, to share some thoughts on Aotearoa New Zealand’s relationship with the Pacific region, and how we seek to partner with our Pacific neighbours, or Pacific whanau.
Firstly I would like to acknowledge each of you as broadcasters of our Pacific region. I also want to acknowledge the incredible work of Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Limited and its CEO Natasha Meleisea, Board members and the whole organisations’ efforts to adjust their programme in the face of COVID-19 to continue to provide valuable training and professional development with broadcasters in our Pacific region, and maintain their broadcasts via Pasifika TV.
I hope this conference is a valued few days for you all to take time from your busy schedules to share your experiences as broadcasters, reflect on your hard work and achievements in strengthening the media sectors in your countries, and look ahead to what more is possible in this space in the future.
With our approach in the Pacific region, Aotearoa New Zealand’s identity is shaped by our shared links with the Pacific. Our joint whanaunga and aiga ties, and common histories are at the centre of our relationships and commitments in the region. This time of Matariki is a good reminder of our shared ancestors, who navigated their passage across the Pacific using stars and star clusters, including the flight paths of birds, the sea currents and wave patterns, and the location of where the sun rises or sets.
Our cultural, social, historical and family links across the region, along with our values, guide our engagement in the Pacific.
Important to us in Aotearoa are the values of Whanaungatanga – recognising our connectedness as members of the wider Pacific family;
Manaakitanga – kindness or the reciprocity of goodwill;
Kotahitanga – our shared aspirations for collective benefits; and
Kaitiakitanga – which is about us being protectors and stewards of our intergenerational wellbeing, and leaving mother earth and all her glory and beauty in a far better position for the next generation coming through.
By drawing on each of these values together, we can be an effective and reliable partner in the Pacific region, promoting sustainable and inclusive outcomes, co-partnering for the long term resilience of the Pacific. Mature and robust relationships in the region are also vital for New Zealand to progress the things that are important to us.
As Minister Nanaia Mahuta described in her inaugural foreign policy address at Waitangi in February this year, it is important that Aotearoa New Zealand’s relationships across the Pacific acknowledge the inherent mana of each country – this position frames how New Zealand partners with and engages in the region.
I want to emphasise the significance of partnership in our engagement – particularly of a strong Pacific voice in forming these partnerships and the need for a mutual understanding of each other’s contexts, specific challenges and opportunities and shared areas of interest, and aspirations.
This is where the need for Pacific stories, history, and news reportage is highlighted. Your efforts as broadcasters to amplify Pacific voices, highlight Pacific issues, and innovate in your sector to increase the diversity of Pacific stories that reach local and global audiences. This ensures these stories and vital news services are reaching as many of our people as possible are increasingly important.
A vibrant and resilient media sector helps us learn about ourselves, learn about each other, and learn about the world. It spurs innovation, creativity, and necessary debate. It brings people together, and it helps keep our communities safe by sharing timely and important news and public messages.
I want to see more Pacific stories being told by Pacific peoples, using our cultural lens, cultural intelligence and languages. This will require support and collaboration and understanding. I also want to see those stories reflected back to us here in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Partnering together to support a strong and resilient media sector in the Pacific allows us to work together to highlight and tackle issues facing the Pacific and our people. This includes fighting COVID-19 and the unique challenges it brings to the region, and supporting a strong Pacific response and voice on climate change, as kaitiaki/guardians of our natural world. I was heartened to learn the theme of Pasifika on Air’s first funding round was “building resilience during COVID-19” and wish those of you producing programmes with this support all the very best as these come together.
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge now those of you working tirelessly amidst the difficulties of COVID-19, particularly in Fiji and in Papua New Guinea. I understand your normal work practices have been significantly disrupted as you and your colleagues face increasing risks when going out to gather important news and stories, which in turn help keep your communities safe. Our thoughts are with you and we will continue to show manaakitanga and to live our values as whanaunga, aiga, friends and partners, to stand with you during these challenging times, including by supporting vaccine rollouts and economic recovery efforts. Aroha nui, Alofa atu from myself, our government and the people of Aotearoa New Zealand.
I encourage you to make the most of your visionary day today, to think big and to support each other’s ideas and ambitions. There is so much we can achieve when we put our heads together across the region. Working together, collectively, is one of our natural strengths, as peoples of the Pacific. Let’s not settle for the status quo. Let’s make the sky as our limit. Lead and be the authors of our own powerful stories.
We say in Aotearoa – Kia kaha. Be strong.
Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.