Pacific human rights in spotlight at Massey Uni
Massey University conference to focus on human rights issues around the Pacific and look for sustainable solutions.
Academics, government officials and representatives from non government organisations gather in Auckland from today for a conference on human rights issues in the Pacific.
An organiser, Massey University's Pasifika director, Dr Malakai Koloamatangi, says 'Human Rights in the Pacific, Priorities, Practice and Sustainability' will look at the full breadth of human rights issues in the region and look for solutions.
He spoke to Don Wiseman.
MALAKAI KOLOAMATANGI: We have a cross section of people coming. So we have academics, we have NGOs, we have officials, we have policy makers. And the main idea was to try and invite a cross section of society, not only from New Zealand but also from across the Pacific. We have for example, through the good offices of the government we are bringing over 15 NGO representatives from different parts of the Pacific to talk about rights from a sort of a bottom up approach. In fact we want these people from health for example to talk about the rights to access health. We want climate scientists to talk about sustainable development and climate change. So we've got a whole range of presentations. And hopefully they'll not only identify the problems but also see the solutions as well.
DON WISEMAN: In addition to this happening, Massey University is going to launch it's Pacific Research and Policy Centre, just tell us a little bit about this.
MK: The Pacific Research and Policy Centre is probably one of its kind not only in New Zealand but also in Australasia. There is a need here a traditional need that research and policy were not often linked or connected. For example scholars would work away by themselves and officials and so on would advise their respective governments.
DW: Well there have been places like the McMillan Brown Centre at Canterbury University haven't there?
MK: But the emphasis there was mainly on the traditional Pacific research so in a traditional sense, a scholarly sense. What we're talking about is trying to link research findings and application, that's the explicit aim of the centre.
DW: It'll take resources. The university's pitching in, obviously?
MK: It will take resources. I'm one of the co-directors of the centre and it was launched on our Manawatu campus, it's having its launch here in Albany, it will also be launched in Wellington preferably in Parliament in the new year. So yes, the university is serious. We are the only university in New Zealand that has a Pasifika strategy in place and it has been passed by our council and also the leadership team. So we are, the university is showing it's quite serious and genuine about establishing Pacific research and supporting Pasifika research at Massey.
DW: When we talk about support. How many people are you thinking are going to be involved in the centre?
MK: There are the co directors. There is already a centre co-ordinator. I'm thinking that the model will be that you'll have a director in the near future, who will then have a co-ordinator or centre manager, and then there'll be a governance board, governance team, there'll be an advisory board, then there'll be researchers. So the idea is that the centre becomes the co-ordinator, the hub for Pacific research at Massey, and then we can take that beyond the Massey gate.
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