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Former minister calling for more action from Pacific community

Alakihihifo Vailala

Aupito William Sio calls for Pacific peoples to stand in solidarity with Māori

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

A former cabinet minister believes Pacific peoples are not doing enough to understand the perspectives of Māori.

Aupito William Sio, a former minister for Pacific peoples and Māngere MP, attended King Tuheitia’s hui ā motu over the weekend at Tūrangawaewae Marae as part of a delegation of panel speakers.

Sio emphasised the role Pacific living in Aotearoa New Zealand play when it comes to standing in solidarity with Māori.

“Our connections are long, they go back many, many waves, and are even stronger today than ever before. And for that reason, Pasifika must stand to support and help amplify the voice of Māori.”

Hon Aupito William Sio at the one year commemoration of Dawn Raids apology. Photo / NZ Herald

Despite the strong connections, Sio says he believes more should be done by Pacific people living in Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I do not believe that our Pacific people are doing enough to really understand Aotearoa, New Zealand and to understand the perspective of Māori.”

“I want to encourage Pacific peoples to attend Waitangi celebrations throughout the motu and to begin to have this conversation because this is important for the future of the nation.”

Almost 400,000 Pacific people call Aotearoa New Zealand home according to latest figures from Statistics New Zealand.

It is the fastest-growing population, with more than half the total number under the age of 25.

“If the Pacific is calling New Zealand home, which I have made quite abundantly clear in my speech, then we must be interested, we must hold conversations in our families, in our church and our youth groups,” Sio says.

“There will be many in the Kīngitanga and iwi leaders who would be more than willing to help us better understand the Māori perspective on these things.”

He emphasises the need for strong and positive leadership during a time of uncertainty for Māori.

“I liken it to a saying, E afua mai mauga manuia o nu’u, (From a mountain flows the blessings onto the village). We need leaders that are strong and steadfast in their values, who are not going to be whiny and negative.”

Sio says the long-term focus is the wellbeing of young children in which the solution involves young people.

“I set out that our solution is in the indigenous frameworks and that includes the views and opinions of our young people, young Māori and Pasifika.

“The focus must always be on giving confidence and strength to the younger ones. I think the report back from our rangatahi gives me immense confidence that they are using the new frontiers of social media to promote their thinking around mana motu and self independence in a way that we haven’t ever seen before”.

Hero image: Hon Aupito William Sio attended Kīngi Tuheitia’s hui-ā-motu over the weekend. Photo / Whakaata Māori

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