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Action needed to address Pasifika inequalities

a group of Pasifika people

26 May | 2014

The Salvation Army is urging politicians to act urgently to help Pacific communities overcome the obstacles blocking them from building a viable and just future.

New Zealand is home to the majority of Pacific people. They make up 7.4 per cent of the population with 70 per cent now born in New Zealand. So Pacific people should no longer be considered only imported labour or immigrants—this is their home, Salvation Army policy analyst Ronji Tanielu says.

The Salvation Army releases its second state of Pacific Peoples in New Zealand report, This is Home, on 27 May at Otahuhu Salvation Army.  Examining key areas of socio-economic progress, the report highlights solid advances in early childhood education enrolment and NCEA achievement rates.

However, consistently high unemployment rates of Pacific people—twice that of the overall population—and worsening income disparities between Pacific people and the rest of New Zealand are deeply concerning, Mr Tanielu, the report’s author says.

The effective exclusion of the great majority of Pacific people from home ownership, particularly in Auckland, is another stark sign that Pacific people are not fully participating in the economy.

An infant mortality rate 20 per cent higher than that of the overall population is also an unacceptable and worrying trend, Mr Tanielu says.

‘The recent economic growth and recovery is clearly not benefiting Pacific communities,’ he says. ‘These communities and their leaders will need to work collaboratively and energetically at grass roots level and push and agitate in local and central government if Pacific people are to have a fair stake in our economic and social life.’

The rationale is simple, he says. A struggling Pacific Community is a cost to the rest of New Zealand. On the other hand, a healthy, well-resourced Pacific community is an important asset to this country.

There are numerous examples of how Pacific communities are working with other Kiwis and government to improve their quality of life. The Matanikolo Housing Project in the Auckland suburb of Mangere is one such example.

•    Download 'This is Home' from www.salvationarmy.org.nz/pasifika2014
•    To access some of the media coverage of this report, go to  https://storify.com/SalvationArmyNZ/this-is-home