Treasured Older Adults Pacific Group

  • Luamanuvao Laban
Pacific Island Affairs

Kia Orana tatou katoatoa i te ia ra. Ka ina garo ao I te aka meitaki Ia kotou te au metua vaine e te au metua tane no te moana pasifika ti no'o i te ia enua ko aotearoa I ta koutou au agaaga meitaki I rave no te iti tagata.

Kia riro te ia ei akaraanga nga te au tamariki.

[English Translation of the above - Kia Orana and Warm Pacific Geretings to you all – I would like to commence by acknowledging our elders – our Mothers and Fathers who have paved the way for us, our mothers and fathers who planted the seed in our communities and now we are able to appreciate the fruits of their work. Thank you, Thank you we love you very much. Let this be an example of our young people!!]

Thank you Tupae Pepe – Chair of Treasured Older Adults Pacific Governance Board for your warm introduction. I am delighted to be with you today and to be a part of your final meeting for this year.

It is also good to be able to look back on 2006 as we prepare ourselves for the year that lies ahead.

But before I do this, I wish to acknowledge a few people who have made significant contributions to TOA Pacific this year.

Firstly, I wish to congratulate Malia Hamani, who is at the helm of the day-to-day running of TOA Pacific. You have made this an enriching year for our Pacific older people, their carers and families. I have heard a number of stories about your wonderful work, and the journey that TOA Pacific has taken. Thank you for the fantastic work you are doing.

Behind each good leader is a strong and committed team, and to recognise this I wish to thank the small but spirited team from TOA Pacific who deliver a range of wonderful programmes for our Pacific elders. Thank you.

I would also like to thank our community ministers for their continuous support and unwavering commitment. Through their leadership and support they play an integral part in the life of our older Pacific people, providing spiritual guidance and giving our communities a focal point.

And finally I want to acknowledge and thank those people who are involved in caring for our older people.

It is occasions like this that I get the opportunity to stop and reflect on how valuable our elders are to us. Our elders are a community filled with joy, wisdom and dignity.

“Last-meetings-of-the-year” like this makes me think of how fast time flies! I am sure today’s meeting will see many of you remembering about the highs and lows of the year and looking to what the year ahead may bring.

Throughout the past year, I have been honoured to address our Pacific communities at many different occasions to celebrate achievements in many areas.

I have talked to:

  • Women who are in leadership roles in the health, community and business sectors,
  • Our Pacific educators at the Hawkes Bay Spacifically Pacific event; and
  • To a wide range of community and voluntary organisations that enrich the lives of people all over New Zealand.

The message to them has been this – our Pacific people have a rich and colourful heritage in New Zealand that recognises the important role our elders, who immigrated here, play.

Our older Pacific people are the foundation on which our communities are built.

They are the ones who not only navigated the journey from the Islands to New Zealand – but also navigated settling and starting new families and communities in a foreign country.

Through leadership in extended family, church and in the community – our older people have ensured we have a place of belonging and home in a new land.

Service to parents and family, service to church, service to community, and service to our nation. These are the values on which our communities are based.

I have told audiences that New Zealand’s national identity has, over time come to value, accept and reflect the Pacific identity.

I have had the pleasure this year of addressing our Pacific communities on the need to focus our efforts towards economic prosperity, and build on the legacies that came with the first generations of immigrants.

I have also this year had the wonderful opportunity to congratulate a number of Pacific people across the country for their efforts in raising the positive public profile of our communities.

One such moment for me was being able to acknowledge one of our young writers. Tongan/Samoan poet Karlo Mila-Schaaf's book Dream Fish Floating won the Best First Book Award for Poetry at this year’s Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Earlier this year I acknowledged the contribution of young Samoan Silver Fern Maria Tutaia at the Pasifika Netball Challenge in Waitakere.

Women like Karlo and Maria embody the creativity and passion that flow through our Pacific communities. It is creativity and passion that has come to represent the potential contribution that Pacific people can make to New Zealand as a whole.

Pacific Economic Action Plan and Pacific Women's Economic Development Plan

The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs has recently completed the Pacific Economic Action Plan and Pacific Women’s Economic Development Plan. This plan responds to numerous reports, which tell the story of social and economic disparity experienced by New Zealand’s Pacific communities.

The Pacific Economic Action Plan and Pacific Women’s Economic Development Plan aims, over time, to address this disparity by encouraging Pacific Peoples into high-skilled, higher paid careers as well as promoting pacific business activities.

Pacific people in New Zealand are already known for their achievement in sport, culture and fashion. The opportunity now presents itself for our people to become known for their achievements in business, research and science.

MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
As part of Budget 2006, Hon Phil Goff and I announced that over the next three years, the Labour-led Government will spend $600,000 on a programme to revitalise the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau languages that are at risk of becoming extinct in New Zealand.

The people from all three-island groups are New Zealand citizens and more significantly the majority of these populations now reside in New Zealand.

The challenge for our New Zealand Pacific communities is the maintenance of language and the need for those who speak Pacific languages to pass them onto their children and grandchildren.

Our younger Pasifika people need our older Pasifika people to teach them and guide them through learning our Pasifika languages.

Helping Pacific languages to survive and flourish is an important part of New Zealand's identity as a Pacific nation. Our language is our life – the guardians of this treasurer are our older Pacific people. And it is they continue to nurture that flame of life.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR OLDER PEOPLE

Earlier this year – Senior Citizens Minister Hon Ruth Dyson announced a number of initiatives to support our older people.
Superannuates with a spouse or partner in long-term residential care are now eligible to be paid the single, living alone rate of New Zealand Super.

That equals more than $3000 per year for a superannuate living alone.

Last month we unveiled the Supergold Card for seniors. The card is a concession card for New Zealand residents who qualify for NZ Superannuation or a Veteran's Pension. Other residents aged 65 plus are eligible for the card, but will need to apply. The card will be available in August next year.

The Ministry of Social Development has set up a freephone for seniors wanting to make inquiries. That number is 0800 25 45 65.

This Labour-led Government is committed to strengthening New Zealand families young and old, so that all New Zealanders can maintain active, fulfilling lives and participate fully in our communities. We want all New Zealanders to have the support they need to be secure.

To conclude, my government is committed to strengthening and nurturing relationships with our Pacific communities. We recognise the passion, effort and struggle of our pacific people and we will continue to support our children, young people, elders and families as we go forward.

I congratulate all those who have worked hard and passionately to establish this organisation to support our older people. Your work is very much appreciated and valued.

I hope TOA Pasifika will grow and develop, both in membership and public profile. I wish you well in your celebrations and all good wishes for the years ahead, filled with peace, joy and love.

I wish you all a very enjoyable afternoon.

Ia manuia.