Expo encourages Pacific economic development

Saturday 19 January 2008, 5:22PM
By Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban commends an initiative of Tongan church congregations to promote and enhance economic development pathways and education opportunities for Pacific youth, Vahefonua Tonga 'o Aotearoa (VTOA) Education and Training Expo 2008. The Expo was opened today by Prime Minister Helen Clark.

"VTOA Expo 2008 engages young people, parents, teachers, church leaders and the wider Pacific community to interact and gather information first hand about the education, training, employment and career opportunities available from education institutions and industry training organisations," Laban said.

Last year the Labour-led government launched the Pacific Economic Action Plan and the Pacific Women’s Economic Development Plan aimed at lifting the economic potential and prosperity of Pacific people in New Zealand over the next decade. The plans focus on key areas for development including education; workforce development; creative, emerging, and growth industries; entrepreneurial culture; and leadership.

"The plans provide a road map for harnessing the potential that lies within Pacific people and communities, to develop sustainable and exciting businesses, careers and educational opportunities," said Laban.

"VTOA Expo 2008 provides the opportunity for Pacific communities to make informed choices about career and learning opportunities to ensure that they are able to fully contribute, and share in New Zealand's future success."

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban said engagement with Pacific communities, government agencies and private sector organisations is vital to the delivery of effective services and implementation of the plans.

"Pacific churches are known for their ability to mobilise Pacific communities and VTOA Expo 2008 is a wonderful example of churches working together to provide leadership and promote economic development of our Pacific peoples.

"This year's expo follows the successful inaugural expo in 2007 and I congratulate organisers for providing the opportunity to raise community awareness and for playing an active role in supporting young people to explore and utilise career and learning opportunities," said Laban.