In the government's 2021 Budget, a big investment of $NZD108 million has been signalled to support the wellbeing of the Pacific population through the rebuild and recovery from Covid-19.
Aupito William Sio said this is a significant investment for Pacific communities who have been hard-hit by the pandemic in the past year.
"With the Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou Goals as a guide, the Pacific package puts a strong focus on Pacific wellbeing and continues the Government's commitment to ensuring that Pacific peoples are leading this work to achieve confident, thriving, prosperous and resilient communities,"
"Budget 2021 makes this possible through tailored business, health and education initiatives that bolster the vital holistic work Pacific communities are already doing across the country."
The $108 million Pacific package is made up of the following:
$99.6 million new operating funding
$660,000 new capital funding from the Budget 2021 allowances and the Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF).
$7.8 million in operating funding is repurposed from existing funding in Vote Education.
The package includes:
$30.3 million boost to assist the Tupu Aotearoa programme to support approximately 7,500 Pacific peoples into employment, training, and education across Aotearoa New Zealand, funded from the CRRF.
Investing $6.6 million to support establishing the Pacific Wellbeing Strategy - a cross-government initiative that will develop ways to measure Pacific wellbeing across government work programmes and initiatives.
Supporting Pacific businesses through the impacts of Covid-19 with $16.2 million for business support services, funded from the CRRF.
$20.8 million supporting Pacific bilingual and immersion education in the schooling system, made up of $12.4 million of new operating funding and $644,000 of new capital funding from Budget 2021 allowances, with $7.8 million of repurposed funding from Vote Education.
$5 million operating funding and $16,000 capital funding to deliver sustained professional learning and development to embed Tapasā as a tool to address social inclusion in the education sector.
$5.1 million for the development of two new Pacific language subjects, gagana Tokelau and vagahau Niue as NCEA Achievement Standards subjects.
AUT University journalism academic Richard Pamatatau said the investment into the Pacific population is needed given they were hard hit by the outbreak of Covid-19 last year.
"We have lower socio-economic status, troublesome housing, so the $108m Pacific package is a good boost to better support Pasifika bounce back," he said.
Pacific health providers will get $16m to implement the Ola Manuia: Pacific Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2020-2025 funded from the CRRF.
This is to deliver services directly to their community, after a year where many led Covid-19 testing, contact tracing and support in lockdowns in Auckland.
Pamatatau said that is a very strong move because if you make people well or assist them to be better or healthier, then the government will not need to pay more money down the line when things get out of control.
"The targeted money is good and hopefully in the long run it will enable the government to save money because if people are well, then there's less money spent on the ambulance end," he explained.
However, the academic encourages the Pasifika community to be proactive about the Budget by learning what the benefits are for them and utilising the investment to better their livelihoods.
"The Pacific population needs to get up and take advantage of this, it can't be passive.
"We need to look at the money that is made available to our community and say I need to play my part in it, and that means recognising the government's investment and contribute even more to what makes New Zealand a really good place to be in," Pamatatau said.