Hikoi if Pacific Community funding is cut
By TIM DONOGHUE – The Dominion Post
AUCKLAND: 12 March 2010 - A Pacific Island leader is threatening to organise a hikoi if public funding for the Pacific Island community is cut. Auckland’s Pacific Business Centre Chief Executive JR Pereira and former All Black Michael Jones say the Government needs to focus more resources on the Pacific Island community, not fewer.
Mr Pereira, a former Pacific Island Affairs Ministry employee, said Pacific Islanders might resort to a hikoi if ministry funding was cut during a public sector shake-up. He said the ministry’s 2009-10 budget of $7.6 million was not fair compared with Te Puni Kokiri’s $173m budget for Maori.
Mr Pereira, Jones, former All Black Va’aiga Tuigamala and Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga expressed funding concerns to Prime Minister John Key at a meeting in Auckland last year.
Mr Pereira said a challenge for Pacific Island leaders was to learn from the way Maori had benefited from Treaty negotiations.
“We don’t have a Treaty and we don’t have land in this country. The Government could start helping us by giving Pacific Islanders an annual budget of $25m per year,” he said. He wanted more money allocated to educate Pacific Island people and to raise their skills, particularly in Auckland. Mr Jones said the ministry had to champion Pacific Islanders.
“The brown tail must be shortened, not lengthened. It must be removed. We need to be more involved with decision-making. We must be part of the head and not the tail,” he said. “We must create solutions ourselves … any investment in Auckland has to be seen as a good thing.”
Pacific Island Affairs Ministry chief executive Colin Tukuitonga said he was delighted Mr Jones and Mr Pereira were advocating more resources for Pacific Islanders.
“I’m advertising for a new director to lead the Auckland office at the moment,” Dr Tukuitonga said.
Mr Key said on Monday that cuts or axing ministry funding were not on any list he had seen. He could not be contacted yesterday.
Pacific Island Affairs Ministry has an annual budget of $7.6 million (includes Pacific Business Trust). Employs 45 staff. Caters for 270,000 Pacific Island people (2006 census figure).
Te Puni Kokiri has an annual budget of $173 million (includes Crown entities Te Mangai Paho, Maori Television Service and the Maori Potential Fund). Employs 353 staff. Caters for 565,329 people who identify as Maori (2006 census figure).