Reflecting on a rewarding year of change
After 12 months in the role, Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Chief Executive Laulu Mac Leauanae (pictured) continues to strive to achieve his goal of equal opportunities being afforded to all in Aotearoa.
Laulu’s parents relocated to New Zealand from Samoa and raised him in West Auckland.
Due to their hard work, Laulu was able to see the great opportunities available in New Zealand.
“I have also observed many Pacific communities in New Zealand miss out on opportunities… I want the same opportunities afforded to all,” he says.
This concept has been a driving force behind Laulu’s first year in the public service leadership role.
It has been a year of change at the Ministry – with a new government elected in September 2017 and the Hon. Aupito William Sio coming on-board as Minister for Pacific Peoples.
With a jam-packed calendar of events, meeting with stakeholders, collaboration opportunities, and the Ministry working towards a new Pacific vision for New Zealand’s Pacific, 2018 has been hugely lively to say the least, Laulu says.
The lawyer-come-public servant, who also has private sector experience, knows the value in face-to-face engagement and collaboration when it is a good fit.
“Over the past 12 months, I have tried to engage with the Ministry’s stakeholders and government agencies.
“In March, I was privileged to meet all other government CEs at a summit and hear about their leadership styles and pick up some ideas which matched the culture at MPP.”
Collaboration has been a focus for MPP this year around the Ministry’s priority areas – vision and leadership; language, culture and identity, employment and entrepreneurship; and government system leadership for Pacific communities.
Partnerships to achieve positive change for Pasifika are incredibly valued at MPP.
Hosting Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson’s post-Budget briefing with Pasifika Futures, Pacific Business Trust (PBT), Pacific Media Network and Pasifika Education Centre (PEC) was very successful and showed the strength of working in unity.
The Ministry has partnered with PBT to work on securing a long-term commitment to transform the organisation into a powerful engine of economic change.
The Trust and MPP are currently mapping the true scale and significance of the Pacific Economy and the organisations will present their findings to Treasury in November, Laulu adds.
“In the last 12 months, MPP has collaborated and supported many organisations and initiatives to help create change including Southern Initiative, Le Va, Vaka Tautua, Southseas Healthcare and The Fono to name a few – there are too many to mention, but I am so grateful to everyone I have engaged with,” Laulu says.
“This is an area I’ll continue to focus on in the New Year, building on what has already been established this year.”
A highlight of the CE’s Laulu’s first 12 months has been the Toloa Scholarship Awards and the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards in early 2018 – events where the future Pasifika leaders were in the spotlight, recognised for their exceptional talents and service to the community.
“It was truly inspiring and rewarding to be part of an event where young Pasifika are achieving great things and are being given the means and opportunity to go on and achieve even greater things for the Pacific communities throughout New Zealand.”
Promoting and preserving Pasifika language, culture and identity has become a crucial part of what MPP does, and launching the 2017 and now 2018 Pacific Language Weeks has provided Laulu with a great sense of fulfilment.
To strengthen the Ministry’s commitment to languages, a stronger relationship has been established with PEC.
“Pacific languages are slowly dying but if MPP can contribute to promoting and even preserve them, I feel we have achieved something important.”
Another highpoint of the past year has been the success stories coming from the Pacific Employment Support Service (PESS) programme, which MPP leads working alongside four providers – InWork New Zealand, SENZ, Skills Update, Training Institute and Solomon Group.
The programme, which has two more years remaining, is aimed at reducing the number of Pacific young people aged 15-29 who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Auckland and Hamilton.
“In the seven years it has been up and running, PESS has helped over 2200 Pacific Youth and those young people have achieved over 1000 employment placements and over 700 training placements,” Laulu says.
“Initiatives such as PESS and the opportunities programme participants gain from it, allow Pacific communities to not only flourish, but to make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economy.”
The Ministry is making a lot of positive changes for Pasifika in New Zealand, and as an “influencer of change”, his first year in the CE role has been very rewarding, the CE says.