Education is a key factor in achieving economic and social outcomes for Pacific communities and improving Pacific peoples' contribution to the New Zealand economy.
Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste, Ia Orana, Gud de tru olgeta, Talofa ni, Talofa, Kia ora tatou and warm Pacific greetings to you all.
Fa'afetai tele lava I lau afioga Tupuola Malifa for your warm introduction and a heart felt thank you for inviting me to your function acknowledging the graduation of our Pasifika students.
Welcome to all our guests here today and I would particularly like to acknowledge:
* The staff and management of Victoria University, in particular Mrs Sera Gagau the Pacific Liaison officer, for your commitment in ensuring that our Pacific students are given the appropriate support - Malo lava!
* Ponsami Chetty Acting High Commissioner for the Republic of the Fiji Islands and Sakiusa Rakai the Second Secretary
* Ministers of Religion
* The graduates and their families and supporters who are here this evening.
It is a pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the success of our Pacific students. For our graduates, this is a time of great excitement and you should be very proud of your achievements.
I would like to thanks the parents and families of our graduates for all the support they have provided throughout your degree.
Study is a big commitment in terms of time, money, and energy. It is never easy. However, the returns can be enormous.
I believe passionately in the power of education to change people's lives.
Education underpins all the goals we have for New Zealand's future, and the goals we have for all people in New Zealand.
Research also tells us that people with a tertiary qualification earn more, are healthier and live longer.
We all want the best for ourselves and our families. The government understands how important tertiary education is to unlocking success, opportunity and fulfilment for our people.
To reflect this, the government has reformed the tertiary sector to make it more relevant to the needs of learners and the needs of our society and economy.
We are now seeing more and more New Zealanders gaining tertiary qualifications than ever before.
Education is a key factor in achieving economic and social outcomes for Pacific communities and improving Pacific peoples' contribution to the New Zealand economy. Tertiary achievement is the key to economic advancement.
The proportion of Pacific people with tertiary qualifications is growing faster than any other group. When we look back to 1996, ten per cent of Pacific people held a tertiary qualification compared with 19 per cent by last year.
As Pacific graduates entering the workforce, or perhaps going onto further study, all of you have the potential to use the knowledge you have gained at Victoria University to make a positive contribution to your communities and the country as a whole.
You are our leaders, and role models for our young people. You encourage me - because you are our future.
As a woman of the Pacific and a proud New Zealander, I know that wherever I go I carry my Pacific identity with me. The history of our people, our values and cultures are all important factors that shape my politics and priorities.
I encourage you to do the same in your professional lives. Always look for ways to make a difference by bringing your own unique identity and perspective to the work you do - both in your workplace and out in the community.
You have shown that goals can be reached through hard work - as well as the support of your family, friends and the staff at Victoria University.
Today is a time for us to celebrate your hard work this year. You should be very proud of your achievements, and I have no doubt that your families are extremely proud of you.
I know that you have bright futures ahead of you, and I look forward to hearing of the great work you will go on to do to shape Pacific communities of the future.
Soifua ma ia manuia