Aupito William Sio
Wellington, August 26, 2017
Labour will push the recognition of the five main Pacific languages in New Zealand through our education system
For New Zealand to do well, we need our Pacific people to thrive. Our communities need to hear their own stories in their own languages from our own people.
By 2026, Pacific people will make up 10% of New Zealand’s population. Just under half of Pasifika people living in New Zealand are younger than 20 compared to around a quarter for the rest of the population.
New Vision needed
A new vision for our people is needed. Labour will recognise the Cook Island, Niuean, Tokelauan, Samoan and Tongan languages as official community languages in our education system.
Quality Pacific language education has a proven international record of raising academic achievement. This is supported by our local circumstances in Professor May’s 2009 report from the University of Auckland.
We will wrap all that support and community initiatives in a Pacific Language Policy.
We will maintain our pledge to have public broadcasting with quality Pasifika content. We will also reinstate the goals for Pacific literacy, research and bilingualism in the Pacific Education Plan that were removed by this Government in 2009. We will resume publishing the Tupu and Folauga series of books for our schools.
Labour will also review the Government’s migration policy as tiny Pacific nations like Tuvalu, Tokelau and Kiribati start to hurt under the impact of climate change.
We will ensure that Pacific people working here under the RSE scheme are no longer exploited. We will retain the Samoan quota and make sure that the quota can be fully met.
To ensure that Pasifika people are part of this vision we will hold an annual Pacific Futures Forum so we can develop policy that grows our economy. This will be funded within existing baselines of the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.
Our Pasifika families have become part an integral part of the fabric of New Zealand society and we need to do a lot more to support our dynamic Pasifika communities. If we do that, all of New Zealand will better off than they are now.
Aupito William Sio is elected Member of Parliament from Mangere and Labour Party’s Spokesman for Pacific Island Affairs