Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

‘There’s always a way, you’ve just got to find it’ – New PBT Chair Paul Retimanu

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Seinafolava Sanele Chadwick | Reporter/Director - Wellington

The new chair of the Pacific Business Trust (PBT) says the future is bright for Pacific businesses despite less than two-percent of Pacific people owning their own business.

Wellington businessman Paul Retimanu was appointed to the role in the August this year and brings with him 24-years of experience, largely in event management and hospitality with a healthy does of governance experience.

“I think part of the reason why I’ve been brought in by the Minister and Ministry is… to Unify,” Retimanu says.

The Pacific Business Trust Awards, the last one we did recently… hugely successful. Big divide of people across the motu who came in and celebrated.”

Retimanu and his wife started a catering business back in 1998 with a $50,000 loan through the PBT after retail banks refused to lend them money. It’s an issue which plagues many Pasifika start-ups and is one that’s exacerbated by the lack of home ownership among Pacific people in New Zealand.

“We know our home ownership is like one in five so, 20% of Pacific people own their own house and you need that. Retail banks want some form of collateral, so there’s a barrier,” Retimanu says.

“How do we have overcome that? And that’s where we focus on the top two inches – we have to focus on mindset. Some people are going to close the door, I know, but what you don’t do is you don’t necessarily give up.

“There’s always a way, you’ve just got to find it. And at Pacific Business Trust, we’ve got to be able to help to do that.”

A big part of what the PBT wants to do now, is showcase the number of already successful Pacific Businesses.

“We need to identify where the successful Pasifika businesses are – the John Fisos, the Tyrone McAuley from Pikpok, you know, the Mike Pero… Parris Goebel,” Retimanu says.

“But also, the ones, these smaller businesses that have made it, whether they’ve got five staff, ten staff or 15. We’ve got to identify and locate those and get in front of our younger generation.”

The PBT has close to 1800 businesses on their books with nearly half being owned by Pasifika women and a third owned by people aged between 18 and 35. Retimanu believes more needs to be done to support businesses in the present – especially given the impact of Covid-19 over the past few years – but also for the future. And he adds that it is fundamentally a shift in mindset.

“In the Islands they live for today – I get that. The shops, they sell everything individually… and somebody will come, and they’ll go fishing and they’ll drop it off to everybody. In New Zealand you can’t live for today,” Retimanu says.

“We need to live and think about tomorrow. And those are the things that I would be talking to, the 20- to 30-year-olds for them to understand.

“It’s not about them anymore. It’s about the kids, the grandkids and the big grandkids kids. That’s what we have to think about.”

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