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Pacific Blues chair dismisses impact of MPP cuts, while local Labour politician warns it will hurt community

Alakihihifo Vailala, Te Rito Journalism Cadet

The leader of National's Pacific members group has downplayed MPP's workforce cut, while a Labour Party local body politician says the staffing reductions will affect Pacific support services.

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Chair of the National Party’s Pacific Sector says the 40 per cent cut to the Ministry for Pacific People’s (MPP) workforce won’t make a “real big difference”.

The head of National’s Pacific Blues, Christian Malietoa-Brown, says the government is focused on the economy and feeding working families, and the cuts are a consequence of the ministry not delivering for Pacific people.

Speaking on 531pi's Pacific Mornings’ political panel, Malietoa-Brown says the public service agency cuts are the result of the Labour government’s overspending which has resulted in “negative debt”.

“Even after the 40 per cent cut, I guarantee you probably no one will notice any real big difference from the Ministry for Pacific People.

“If you’re going to be part of a ministry, any ministry across this whole government, you have to be producing stuff.

“And if not, then I’m sorry, 40 per cent, 50 per cent cuts, 60 per cent cuts, that’s what it’s going to take, because that money could be used better elsewhere for people who really, really need it. Lots of families are struggling right now.”

Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board member Vi Hausia says cuts to MPP’s workforce are a huge loss for the community.

“There’s a lot of work that MPP does through community development, strengthening our Pacific communities through community outreach. There are a lot of things that central government does and they need to disseminate that information really quickly.

“They reach out to MPP who have their ground crews, their networks to be able to reach the corners of our communities that are hard to engage.

“A 40 per cent decrease in funding to MPP means 40 per cent less outcomes for our people.”

Watch the full panel discussion below:

Hausia says the cuts may also result in MPP’s function going back to only providing policy advise and the possible cuts to community programmes and funding.

“The government’s budget shows where their priorities are and it’s clear to New Zealand that the Pacific community is not a priority for the government. MPP does a lot for New Zealand, for the government and for Pacific people.

“Particularly with a government that has zero Pacific MPs, it makes me worry.”

Malietoa-Brown says despite the lack of Pacific representation within National’s caucus, not much was done by Labour’s Pacific MPs in the former government.

“I go around the country and a lot of Pacific people are not happy with the outcomes.

“We actually need people to have jobs that create outcomes that are going to produce results which are good for the country … people always ask me, what does the Ministry for Pacific Peoples do? How do they get all this money and where does it go?

“If people are asking these fundamental questions, there has to be two things that we can deduce from this. Number one, the community is not seeing the results that these people are supposedly creating. Or number two, there’s some really bad marketing.”

PMN News has received confirmation from MPP that it is proposing to reduce its staffing size by 63 roles, 31 of which are currently vacant.

Final decisions will be made at the end of April and will be implemented on the 1st of July 2024.

Hero Image: Pacific Blues Chair Christian Malietoa-Brown (left) and Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board member Vi Hausia (right). Photo/supplied

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