Budget 2020: Pasifika community


Budget 2020: Pasifika community

Pasifika lessons for our recovery

Resilience is a foundational pillar on which the Pasifika1 community is built. Pasifika collectivism and collaboration equips the Pasifika community with the capacity to recover and thrive despite the challenges of historic inequities, the threat of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Zealand Government would do well to embrace lessons from our Pasifika community as it maps its response to the devastating effects of COVID-19.

The 2019 Wellbeing Budget recognised and sought to grow the contribution the Pasifika community makes to New Zealand through targeted investment in employment, languages and business support.2

The 2020 Budget continues this level of support and embraces Pasifika values in alignment with the Government’s commitment to “rebuilding together”. Pasifika is the youngest and fastest-growing population in Aotearoa. Ministry of Pacific Peoples’ projections indicate that by 2026, Pasifika will make up one-third of Auckland’s total workforce. The emphasis on jobs, skills and employment in the budget is much needed in the current economic climate, and will deliver for Pasifika more broadly.

The 2020 Pasifika package is a further demonstration of the Government’s targeted support for Pasifika peoples. Funding for Pasifika-focussed initiatives announced in Budget 2020 include:

  • Improving housing for Pacific families and communities (up to $41.3 million);
  • The Auckland Pacific Skills Shift – an initiative that supports Auckland Pacific peoples in low skilled precarious work, to transition into quality employment ($22.1 million);
  • Expansion of Tupu Aotearoa programme across New Zealand ($13.9 million);
  • A Pasifika Culture and Heritage Fund to enable festivals to continue to provide platforms of opportunities to the festival ecosystem ($12.0 million);
  • Progressing the establishment of a New Zealand Fale Malae ($10.0 million);
  • The Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund ($3.0 million);
  • Toloa - Empowering Pacific participation in STEM ($4.9 million);
  • Developing Pacific community content ($1.7 million); and
  • Pacific education initiatives will be announced in the near future by the Associate Minister of Education, Hon Jenny Salesa (up to $80.2 million). 

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The potential is huge – provided inequities are addressed. Better outcomes for Pasifika can mean better outcomes for everyone.

To do this there are three key points to note:

1. Equipping Pasifika for the future 

Pasifika are an important part of the workforce. It is critical we invest in Pasifika peoples’ access to the right tools and resources to prepare for the future of work. This has been recognised in the 2020 budget by the expansion of the Tupu Aotearoa programme ($13.9 million) and the Auckland Pacific Skills Shift ($22.1 million), an initiative supporting Auckland Pasifika peoples in low skilled employment to transition into quality employment.

Another area that needs focus is the digital divide and disparity that Pasifika (and Māori) communities face. Addressing this imbalance quickly and adequately via targeted interventions (like the Toloa funding ($4.9 million) is imperative for many reasons – supporting our young people with learning from home, enabling more Pasifika people to work from home, empowering Pasifika businesses to use the power of online platforms, and ensuring our elders can remain independent and active.

Equipping the Pasifika workforce for the future will ultimately drive greater levels of wellbeing and deliver better outcomes for the Pasifika community. 

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2. Pasifika inclusion in our COVID-19 rebuild

The Government’s investment in infrastructure has the potential to provide economic opportunities for Pacific businesses if a careful approach to project selection and evaluation (including the evaluation of social benefits) can be taken. As outlined in our Budget 2020: Kotahitanga article, social procurement can reduce inequities and build the capabilities of currently underserved communities. 

In order to fully access these new opportunities, the continued Government investment in business advisory support provided by organisations like the Pacific Business Trust is critical. Engaging with these organisations will ensure that the Pasifika community are well supported to explore and maximise new opportunities.

The Auckland Pacific Skills Shift investment will further support this need by helping 5,000 Pasifika people gain micro-credentials on the job in industries like building and construction.

3. Embrace existing Pasifika connections

Pasifika have a long history of building strong communities and relationship-based services. The Pasifika Medical Association, through Pasifika Futures, supported more than 9,000 families3 across Aotearoa by leveraging their existing communities and relationships. This effort is one example of the many community-based efforts of Pasifika supporting Pasifika. Targeting support and funding (including the $3 million Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund) through organisations with existing Pasifika knowledge and connections will ensure efficient and empowering solutions are found during the COVID-19 rebuild. The deliberate flexibility the Budget leaves in terms of the allocating the total package also creates much opportunity for agencies to learn, understand and fund successful Pasifika programmes based on what works for our community.

It is also encouraging to see the continued recognition and investment for Pasifika Culture and Language (through the Pasifika Culture and Heritage Fund ($12 million) and the establishment of a New Zealand Fale Malae ($10 million) and the much needed investment in Pasifika education (to be announced – up to $80.2 million) and improved  housing for Pasifika families (up to $41.3 million).

The conch call for action

The 2020 Budget acknowledges the contributions Pasifika people make to New Zealand’s economy and sets out a bold and flexible funding package that will benefit them. This contribution is despite the challenges Pasifika people face daily – challenges which demand resilience. COVID-19 presents a real opportunity for the Government to partner with Pasifika to ensure a more equitable rebuild that provides increased access to support, training and success for our Pasifika communities.

End notes:
  1. The term Pasifika in this article describes the diverse Pacific community in New Zealand, which encompasses 16 distinct ethnicities, cultures and languages.
  2. Summary of https://www.budget.govt.nz/budget/2019/wellbeing/maori-pasifika/initiatives-supporting-pacific-communities.htm
  3. http://pacifichealth.org.nz/over-50000-pacific-individuals-receive-covid-19-support-packages-during-level-4-lockdown/

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