Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

“I really feel that this is the time… the baton is starting to change”- new Minister for Pacific Peoples Barbara Edmonds

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
“My family was affected by this flood. I was brought up here in Mangere just off Wickman Way. My grandmother’s house was a river. I’ve been in touch with family and community providers on the ground, so I saw that first hand, the need for an evacuation response.” Photo: Gladys Hartson
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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Barbara Edmonds, the new Minister for Pacific Peoples (MPP) and Internal Affairs has hit the ground running since her appointment under the latest government cabinet reshuffle.

Minister Edmonds was in Auckland on Friday to visit the Pacific Response Hub in South Auckland and then the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Leisure Centre pop-up emergency information centre in Mangere. 

Speaking to local media, Minister Edmonds says she is honoured and privileged to take on the role of Minister for Pacific Peoples and excited to be part of such a good team.

Of Samoan heritage, Minister Edmonds hails from the villages of Faleula, Faleatiu, Fasito’outa, Safotu and Asau. She won the seat of Mana in the 2020 general election after the departure of the previous MP for Mana, Labour’s Kris Faafoi. 

L-R – Geraldine Clifford-Lidstone, the new CEO of MPP, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki, Jenny Salesa, Barbara Edmonds, Lotu Fuli and Lemauga Lydia Sosene were on hand at the Mangere Pools evac centre last Friday. Photo: Gladys Hartson

A tax lawyer by profession, Edmonds is not new to the workings of parliament having worked as a private secretary for two former National Ministers and as a tax policy advisor for former Labour revenue minister Stuart Nash.

After her success at the polls in 2020, she was appointed an associate whip by Labour and eventually came to chair the Finance and Expenditure Committee. As well as her two ministerial roles, Edmonds also picks up two associate minister roles in Health (Pacific Peoples) and Housing.

Accompanied by Labour colleagues in Mangere, MPs Lemauga Lydia Sosene, Jenny Salesa, Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki and Auckland City Councillor Lotu Fuli, Edmonds says she is proud to be among a strong and amazing group of mana wahine.

“We’ve got Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Speuloni who is Tongan and Samoan. We’ve just got a new CEO of MPP who is again a Samoan woman, and then myself,” Edmonds says.

“But we are standing on the shoulders of the women behind us, the women that have basically laid the foundation for us to be able to rise to these leadership responsibilities.

“But we are standing on the shoulders of the women behind us, the women that have basically laid the foundation for us to be able to rise to these leadership responsibilities.” Photo: Gladys Hartson

“I really feel that this is the time and that the baton is starting to change. Our parents came here so that we can have a good life, we have been able to benefit from the good decisions that they’ve made, so now it’s our turn, as that first generation of that first migration to be able to support our families and our community,” she says.

During her visit to Mangere, Edmonds thanked the community and its leaders who continue to work tirelessly during the recovery from last week’s devastating floods. 

“My family was affected by this flood. I was brought up here in Mangere just off Wickman Way. My grandmother’s house was a river. I’ve been in touch with family and community providers on the ground, so I saw that first hand, the need for an evacuation response,” She says.

 “I can assure the community that we are not short of leaders here in Mangere in South Auckland and parts of Auckland, the leadership on the ground has been outstanding… I just had my warrants signed off two days ago, but I’m just really heartened by the leadership on the ground.”

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