Within the space of one or two
generations, the population of Pacific people in New Zealand has grown to over
200,000 and undergone a very rapid transformation from isolated agrarian,
subsistence-level communities in the island Pacific to a predominantly urban,
wage-based society not fully integrated into national life, with a significant
proportion of its membership not fully connected to their ancestral roots, and
with a sense of marginalisation from wider Pakeha-led society. That these
social, economic and cultural issues will resolve themselves without planning
and direct intervention is unlikely.
In bringing young Pacific leaders
together, the conference will encourage the discussion of common issues facing
them. Such discussions will not only promote understanding necessary to a
solution, but also establish personal contacts between Pacific communities and
in varied socio-economic circumstances. This is expected to facilitate
cooperation towards future effective action.
The proposed YPLC, by promoting
leadership skills amongst young people and encouraging the inter-generational
transfer of leadership skills, will by its very nature, address many of the
issues associated with community capacity building, a major programme in the
Government's pacific and ethnic affairs policies.
The 2006 Young Pacific Leaders’ Conference
YPLC will comprise of about 200 young leaders either self-nominated or chosen by
existing community organizations, churches and
employers. Generally they will be between 20 and 40 years of age and have
already demonstrated some leadership potential.
group of successful young Pacific people drawn from many fields, has been
constituted to develop appropriate protocols
and advise on programme content.
data papers will be prepared by selected official participants on salient topics
such as ‘what communities expect of their leaders’, ‘how leadership can be
nurtured and developed within Pacific communities’, ‘language change and
survival’, ‘Pacific identities’, ‘the value of ethnic diversity to
Aotearoa’, ‘promoting leadership and control by Pacific people in critical
social areas such as education, employment, health, housing,
two-day conference will enable participants to share their views through group
discussions and informal meeting and talking on the many agenda topics. Elders
and community leaders will be present as
observers and advisors where appropriate.
Delegates while nominated
by various organisations, will not represent them per se. They will be
encouraged to report on their participation to others and will be further
encouraged to organise and participate in further YPLC’s on similar themes,
thereby widening public awareness and understanding of the various issues
covered. There will be a complete report of the main proceedings.
of Young Leaders’ Conferences
Four Young Maori Leaders’
Conferences were held last century in 1939, 1959, 1970, and 1977.
The first was initiated after the Institute of Pacific Relations had met
at Yosemite in 1936. Subsequently leaders discussed the desirability of holding
such a conference for young Maori. It was organised through the National Council
for Adult Education.
The agenda for that first
YMLC in 1939 covered economic conditions, (including land resources and land
use, work other than farming, and finance), housing and the home, health,
community and education. Back then, it was thought that free discussion would
bring home the importance and generality of the problems, providing
incentives to exercise leadership.
Such a demonstration of their capacity to discuss problematic conditions with
sincerity and intelligence, might encourage older generations to assist them and
give them scope for the development and exercise of their talents.
the tradition begun in 1939 and after a hiatus of 23 years, there have been
three YMLC this century, (2001, 2003 and 2005) and high expectations of biennial
conferences in the future. The success of the Young Maori Leaders’ Conferences
this century has resulted in the F.I.R.S.T. Foundation being approached by some
young Pacific leaders who have seen the synergies, similarities and the
differences in Maori and Pacific peoples’ experiences in New Zealand and asked
F.I.R.S.T. to host a similar Pasifika event.
Contacts and the exchange of
ideas between people who are beginning to assume leadership roles will
facilitate the search for solutions and cooperation towards effective future
action. There is no doubt that there are substantial leadership skills in hand,
it seems an ideal time and action to bring these nascent leaders together now,
as they are the inheritors of future leadership roles not just in Pacific
communities but also in national society. These young leaders are members of a
‘browning population’ and labour force, and particularly in the Auckland
urban area, most live in areas where they already constitute a significant
proportion of local populations and communities.
Migrant and urban
adjustment figure highly in Pacific experience in New Zealand. So too does the
viability of decreasing home populations beset by continued out-migration. More
than half of all Pacific people are now urbanized, and this transformation has
parallels with Maori, - low incomes, poor education, housing and health, high
unemployment and imprisonment, and decline in the use of their parental and
ancestral languages. To these
geographically-orientated island to urban issues have been added others which
relate to identity, Pan-Polynesian solidarity, social dislocation, poverty, and
the widely held perception of yawning gaps in access and attainment levels
between Maori and Pacific people and main-stream New Zealand.
Nonetheless as you will be
aware, Pacific communities are more diverse than ever before. There is a wider
range of vocational and social skills, expertise, and experienced life-styles
held by young Pacific people now than ever before, and from which potential
participants in the proposed 2006 YPLC will be drawn. Generational, experiential
and ideological differences have emerged, even though the Pacific population is
still heavily loaded towards the youth, - half of them are aged under 21 years.
To ensure wide representation,
key organisations throughout New Zealand have been invited to nominate delegates
to attend the conference. Besides the involvement of relevant government
ministries, participants from community organisations will bring together a wide
cross-section of young men and women to discuss action-plans for
New Zealand’s Pacific peoples. Inviting Government agencies to nominate
too will broaden the community’s understanding of this conference and its
potential value for all New Zealanders.