Kia orana, talofa lava, Noa’ia e mauri, malo e lelei, taloha ni, fakaalofa lahi atu, ni sa bula vinaka, talofa, kia ora, tena koutou katoa.
I would love to begin by acknowledging everyone here in attendance, especially the families and friends of the 2021/22 Tupu Tai cohort, and those joining us online.
Thank you to the government departments and their representatives here today, for supporting our Pacific young people on what is ultimately a collective journey towards a more diverse and skilled workforce.
Importance of our village
People often use the phrase “it takes a village” to give expression to the support networks around an individual especially in occasions like this.
For our people, it is much more than a saying. It is our very way of being.
It is the way in which our people weathered storms, navigated the vast oceans and built lives of meaning in foreign lands. It took a village.
The world is witnessing this first-hand as relief for our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga pour in from all corners of the world. It is taking a village.
And as we congratulate these interns for their outstanding work over summer we know there may be some fears for the laborious journey ahead. I ask that you look around, at the faces of your friends, family, loved ones, colleagues, mentors and even the caterers, and that you take comfort in knowing we are on this journey with you. It will take a village.
Importance of Tupu Tai
This opportunity you’ve been given matters. Not only for your own journey but for the journey that lies ahead for Aotearoa New Zealand – the growing Pacific demographic means that the success of our country, will soon be reliant on the success of our Pacific peoples.
Tupu Tai has, and continues, to be a pillar for the fale that empowers and enables leadership of Pacific peoples in the public service. It is a testament to the shared commitment of improving Pacific economic outcomes.
Increasing Pacific peoples in policy roles
This is achieved not only through ensuring we’re supporting Pacific peoples into higher studies, but it is achieved through the support of government departments and the public service, and your support and commitment to building more sustainable job opportunities for Pacific peoples.
Currently Pacific peoples make up only 4 per cent of the policy roles in government, and the public service. I want to see more Pacific peoples in these roles, and equally so with your language skills and cultural intelligence. To increase this, requires collaboration and commitment from everyone at every level of the sector and government, as well as an understanding of what we bring to the table and how critical this is to ensuring policy serves the diverse needs, abilities, hopes and aspirations of our Pacific community and Aotearoa New Zealand. It will take a village.
The role of MPP in supporting Pacific prosperity
Certainly for me, across my ministerial portfolios, but namely as Minister for Pacific Peoples, I’m aware of the challenges that confront us, but also the opportunities that lie ahead.
Our story as Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand continues to evolve; over 60 per cent of our Pacific population are New Zealand born. Those who have heard me speak before will be familiar with a phrase I proudly champion when referencing our Pacific population in Aotearoa.
I refer affectionately to the generation that is before us as Generation 6 Bs – they’re Brown, Beautiful, Brainy, Bilingual, Bicultural and Bold.
(I’m a little partial to Mangere – who has the highest youth population than any other suburb in NZ – therefore they’re 7Bs – I hope you won’t mind me adding – Brilliant)
I only need to look around the room at our interns to know that this generation have an invested interest and an unwavering passion for ensuring our Pacific peoples are successful and thriving.
We have to lead and drive the narrative in Aotearoa on who we are, our strengths, our resilience and resolve, and our aspirations for ourselves, our families, our communities and Aotearoa New Zealand.
To help ensure this, my Ministry will continue to engage with Pacific peoples to strengthen the already formidable picture that we have on where Pacific peoples in Aotearoa have come from or moved from, what they’re doing now, and where they want to be in the future.
Together, and with using our Pacific values as our anchor – our engagement with the Pacific community will help to lay the foundations to see where MPP can most benefit Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.
Over this next Parliamentary term, our government and my ministry will continue striving to solidify Pacific peoples’ footprints in Aotearoa by providing the tools and means for Pacific peoples to be confident, thriving, resilient and prosperous.
Expansion of Tupu Aotearoa
Tupu Aotearoa is an MPP driven initiative to ensure Pacific people have the right tools, education, training and employment opportunities to really succeed and thrive in New Zealand.
The Government’s goal is that Pacific young people have better pathways available to them from education to employment in a broad range of careers.
Through Tupu Aotearoa MPP is working with established Service Providers around the country, who deliver a range of social services to their respective Pacific communities, and who share our common goal to support and assist Pacific people to find employment, complete further training or studies.
The Government invested $13.9 million from Budget 2020 to expand Tupu Aotearoa’s reach and delivery across Aotearoa.
Tupu Aotearoa now provides for Pacific people aged 15 years and above who are New Zealand citizens or permanent residents right across regional New Zealand as well as the main Metropolitan areas of: Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.
Educating young Pacific people in fields where there is demand is a huge priority for us, and the MPP Toloa programme aims to encourage more Pacific people into STEAM-related studies and occupations.
STEAM skills and knowledge are not new to Pacific people, and the Toloa programme champions – that Pacific peoples come from a lineage of navigators, explorers, innovators, and experts in STEAM. STEAM skills are adaptable in a vast ocean of career pathways and opportunities.
The Arts is defined within the Toloa programme as creative and innovative skills, processes and knowledge that are transferable into science, technology, engineering and maths careers.
Pacific people have been underrepresented in the STEAM fields for a long time and we are working hard to change this scenario.
Opportunities and jobs in STEAM fields will be the future for Pacific Aotearoa.
The Ministry will support learners and STEAM providers through scholarships, Capability Funding and provider funding in an effort to accelerate and increase participation by Pacific communities in STEAM programmes, and to ensure they don’t miss out in career pathways in the digital economy.
Another one of the Government’s priorities is to see Pacific communities in Aotearoa prosper by owning their own home.
We believe affordable, quality housing is critical to the health and wellbeing of Pacific families and communities, and that everyone should have fair accessibility to home ownership in New Zealand.
In response to growing housing needs in Aotearoa, the Government in Budget 2020 provided MPP with a package of up to $41.315 million in funding to distribute over the next four years through various avenues, to lay the foundations and provide skills required for Pacific peoples to gain improved housing conditions and home ownership, through the Pacific Housing Initiative.
I am pleased to see that Pacific home ownership is finally turning around with Pacific home ownership at 21% compared to the miserable 18% it was in 2017. I remember a time in the 1970s when Pacific home ownership was in the 40 percentage range. We can reach these heights again by working collectively and collaboratively – ie Pacific communities and government agencies.
The Pacific Wellbeing Approach
That’s why Cabinet signed off on the Pacific Wellbeing approach that MPP is now implementing and leading in partnership with other government agencies.
It’s looking at Pacific Wellbeing holisticly and ensuring that there is greater collaboration and cooperation across Government agencies to invest and support Pacific peoples of Aotearoa thrive and become more confident, more prosperous, more resilient;
Pacific peoples are one of the youngest and fastest growing population that will shape the future of Aotearoa New Zealand, and this Government will continue to prioritise Lifting Maori & Pacific skills, incomes and opportunities as a key Wellbeing priority.
As I bring my remarks to a conclusion, I once again commend all of the interns on making it through the programme – though, this is not the end.
We have our fair share of challenges ahead; protecting our languages, improving the pathways to employment, and tackling the impacts of COVID-19. Whether it be in meeting rooms, lecture theatres, zoom calls or even in your kitchen with a tea towel in hand, please keep on this journey.
You all have a part to play in providing the solutions to these challenges as some of our most innovative, audacious and caring leaders yet.
Before I sit down, here’s a short commercial….. The single most important thing we can do in Aotearoa to minimise the risk of Omicron is to get a COVID booster dose as soon as . If you’re 18 or over and it’s been four months since your second dose, you can get your booster now. Find a walk-in clinic nearby or book your appointment now at bookmyvaccine.nz
In addition, let’s work together to ensure our children, your siblings, 5 years plus also get vaccinated. Vaccination protects our families… end of commercial.
I would not be who I am if I did not provide you with some words of encouragement and support. I want to pass onto you something my elders passed onto me, when they said, “E afua mai mauga fa’amanuiaga a le nu’u”
From the mountains flow the blessings unto our communities.
Be like the mountains – strong, steadfast and immovable – in your values and pursuit of cultural knowledge and cultural intelligence;
Provide protection to our communities from the natural elements – storms and strong winds – make good decisions for the many, not the few;
Let your decisions be like – When the waters flow from the mountains the waters are crystal clear, clean and crisp – our communities will thrive and be healthy. But when the waters become dirty and murky, our communities will suffer and may even die.
Good luck to you all. Kia Kaha, be strong everyone. Fa’amalosi. I look forward to crossing paths with you again soon.