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A thriving, prosperous, resilient and confident Pacific Aotearoa are key pillars for the team at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. Laulu Mac Leauanae, Secretary for Pacific Peoples also Chief Executive for the Ministry, leads a team of more than 150 staff across the country with the primary focus to ensure the voices of Pasifika are heard and the initiatives that come out of those voices are delivered, and delivered well.
He credits his drive for a more prosperous future for Pasifika to his parents and their journey from Samoa to New Zealand that began in the early 1960s. Of Samoan descent Laulu hails from the villages of Iva, Faala in Savaii and Si’umu and Sa’anapu in Upolu.
Laulu is in awe of his parents’ journey as migrants to New Zealand. Not only the hardships and the difficulties they endured, but he says the many blessings they achieved. Growing up in Massey in West Auckland and attending the EFKS church in Henderson he recounts the lived experience of growing up surrounded by their Samoan community.
After working in the public sector in health, management, business and leading projects for the Pacific region Laulu says moving into the space to lead the Ministry for the past five years was a natural progression. Laulu reflects on the journey the Ministry has taken, supporting successive governments as the principal advisor on all policies and interventions that impact and improve outcomes for Pasifika people over the course of 30 years.
Formally known as the Ministry for Pacific Islands Affairs, the Ministry was formed in 1990 to develop the growing number of Pasifika people residing in New Zealand, former associate Minister and Ministers include Vui Mark Gosche, Taito Philip Field, Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga , Alfred Ngaro and current Minister Aupito William Sio.
Laulu says while it has been a long journey for the Ministry, they have continued to push through the agenda for Pasifika.
Kapasa Pacific Policy Analysis Tool was co-developed with the department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet in 2016 supporting agencies to develop policies programs and services that integrate Pacific People’s perspectives. Laulu has been at the helm of the Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou report. The Ministry engaged with the Pasifika communities throughout the country to provide a vision and strategic goals for a new Pacific.
Four key strategic goals and visions were created out of the consultation and discussion with Pacific peoples. Laulu says the vision is “we are Confident in our endeavors that we are Thriving, Prosperous, Resilient Pacific Aotearoa.”
- Goal 1: Thriving Pacific languages Cultures and Identities
- Goal 2: Prosperous Pacific communities
- Goal 3: Resilient and Healthy Pacific peoples
- Goal 4: Confident, Thriving Resilient Pacific Young People
He says Lalanga Fou has been able to outline a system to government on how best to deliver initiatives for our communities. “We’ve systematised the voices of our people so that when we engage with Pacific through the government system that we’re doing it in this specific well-being targeted approach under the Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou. Through Lalanga Fou the Ministry has secured 63 million dollars for Pasifika initiatives.
Laulu says they continue to work on the process to measure the impact of the Lalanga Fou work, which is underway with their research and evaluation team.
While engaging with the Pasifika community Laulu says the talanoa was powerful. He says while there are regional differences there were also key similarities.
Laulu says the work to develop the Ministry continues and he is proud to see the Ministry grow and the talent of Pasifika coming into the organisation. “It’s happening throughout the whole agency. It’s been beautiful to see, because when I first started the sense was ‘there isn’t the Pacific talent here, where are they?’ And I would say to my colleagues, I’m of this generation that was born and raised in New Zealand, I am Kiwi but I’m also Pacific. You appoint me as Chief Executive and I’ll run this agency in a manner that reflects our Pacific New Zealandness.”
Laulu is confident they are on track, working to shift the dial for Pacific peoples.