Pacific contribution in New Zealand to be celebrated

Thursday 22 May 2008, 5:42PM
By Hon Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

In response to the discussion paper released by Dr Greg Clydesdale of Massey University, Pacific Island Affairs Minister Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the research is a selective and narrow interpretation of data on Pacific people in New Zealand, as Pacific people are making significant contributions to the economic, cultural and social life of New Zealand.

"Our Pacific people have migrated to New Zealand generally to seek employment opportunities, a better future for their children, educational opportunities or to join family members. Recent figures show that 59 per cent of Pacific people are New Zealand born," Laban said.

More recent research than that cited in Dr Clydesdale’s paper shows that:
• Pacific people in fulltime employment are increasing their hourly earnings at a faster rate than other groups
• 58 per cent of Pacific women are in fulltime work, despite the fact that 41 per cent of them have three or more children
• Pacific children are increasingly taking part in early childhood education, widely acknowledged as critical in predicting future success with increases in enrolment more than twice those for other ethnicities
• the number of Pacific students leaving school with NCEA level 2 or above is increasing
• nearly a third of young Pacific people (aged 18-24) are taking part in tertiary education
• Pacific category migrants had the second highest labour force participation rate (74 per cent) behind skilled principal migrants
• over 82 per cent of the recent Pacific migrants have a school or post school qualification

“These are significant achievements in anyone’s books. And the increasing participation in education suggests they will only continue to get better.

"New Zealand is experiencing labour shortages across the board and migrants make a big contribution to our economy, ensuring that businesses can operate and thrive. It may not always be highly skilled employment but it is valuable work and provides opportunities for migrants to gain New Zealand work experience and skills.

"Our nation is built on migrants, who, just like our Pacific communities' make an enormous contribution to New Zealand and this should be celebrated," Laban said.