Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

“Judge us by our track record in three years” – Dr. Shane Reti, Minister for Pacific Peoples

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

National MP Dr. Shane Reti says he feels like he’s won the lottery of government portfolios when he was appointed last month as the 15th Minister for Pacific Peoples.

As part of the new National-led coalition government, the former National spokesman for the Ministry since 2021 says he has some idea of what to expect.

“So, I didn’t come to this role cold at all…I was already well down the track of, ‘ok, so how do we make a difference?

“If we look back at the last annual reviews, it was me critiquing the Ministry during annual reviews and estimates and I had a clear direction anyway around where I was being informed where Pasifika might want to go,” says Dr. Reti.

The Ministry has come under scrutiny in recent months after the then National public service spokesperson Simeon Brown accused the Ministry, under the Labour government, for extravagant spending at Post budget breakfasts. This followed the Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes criticising the Ministry for spending more than $40,000 on a farewell for former CEO Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae.

The Minister acknowledges there’s been challenges and as part of his early briefing into the Ministry, he has asked to see line item by line item.

“In collaboration with the Ministry, we will make sure we have good visibility of the good work that the Ministry does and that work will be really clear because we’re going to frame it around five or six targets and we’ll hold ourselves accountable year-on-year for reaching those targets,” Dr Reti says.

Photo: MPP website.

According to the MPP website, the Ministry is guided by five key objectives:
– Policy advice
– Targeted interventions
– Data and insights
– Partnerships
– Languages and Identities

In terms of the promotion of Pacific languages, Dr. Reti says he has been briefed on the importance and the impact that it has.

“I’ve asked for a bit more information around how do we quantify that impact as we look at comparing one programme and one spend to another,” he says.

“How do language weeks compare to other bodies of work so I have asked for that but it has been expressed to me how important they are.’

As well as languages, Dr. Reti says the Ministry covers a wide body of work which includes housing, health, language support through to nominations for consideration of Royal honours.

“It’s a wide breadth of work, but I do think we need to tell that story better… so we’ll lift the visibility of the Ministry and our track record will speak for us.”

(L-R) Aupito William Sio and Labour MP Barbara Edmonds.

While he has only been in the role for just over three weeks, Dr. Reti who is of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Te Kapotai and Ngāti Maniapoto heritage, looks forward to making a difference and has acknowledged his predecessors, Labour MPs Barbara Edmonds and Aupito William Sio.

“I’ve been privileged to have a close relationship with some of the previous Ministers… Willie Sio, I consider a friend and a colleague, and he was able to pass on some of his thoughts as was Barbara Edmonds, so I just want to acknowledge both of them and those before me that bring me to this role today.”

Dr. Reti adds, “I’m looking forward to year one, two and three and saying, ‘ we made a difference’, and quantifying what that difference is and what the targets are all about.That’s why we come to politics and that’s’ the ambition I have in collaboration with the Ministry and with Pacific peoples in making a difference.

“Judge us by our track record in three years not in three weeks, our work will speak for us.”

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