Priorities for Pasifika success

Ministry for Pacific Peoples CEO Laulu Mac Leauanae brings skills, experience and much more, as ANGIE ENOKA reports


Three months into the job, Ministry for Pacific Peoples Chief Executive Officer Laulu Mac Leauanae is confident he is ready for the challenges ahead and looks forward to leading a Ministry that is focused on ensuring Pacific communities thrive.


“One of the most important things that I can do as a leader is listen to the voice of our communities,” says Laulu.


“I’m incredibly excited to be part of the Ministry team and build on the idea of “One Voice”; a voice that is credible, trustworthy and respectful.”
Laulu ticked all the boxes needed to tackle the massive job of administering Pacific communities in New Zealand.


Bearing full responsibility for the Ministry serving Pacific communities in New Zealand, and having more authority and responsibility than anyone else in the organisation sounds like a tough job.


“It is tough, but it’s an honour to serve our Pacific families and communities,” confirmed Laulu with a smile.


Speaking to SPASIFIK, Laulu noted that while the current services of the Ministry are about being the Crown’s premier advisor on policies and interventions that improve better outcomes for Pacific peoples in New Zealand, “there is a lot more that the Ministry should be advocating for,” says Laulu.


“What we want to see more of is better outcomes for our Pacific communities. Partnership in a collaborative approach is crucial to achieving this.


“Community connectedness is our Ministry’s greatest point of difference from other government agencies. We know our communities and we know how to serve them. Ultimately, “One Voice” aims to bolster the Ministry’s growing emphasis on results.”


The Ministry’s role continues to evolve. “With the Pacific population on the rise and being the fastest growing young population in New Zealand, they will increasingly shape New Zealand’s future.”


“Everything that the Ministry does; our work, our priorities, our intervention, our activities must, in a way, be mutually reinforcing and beneficial to our Pacific communities and in particular our Pacific youth.”


Laulu says currently, the Ministry is positioning itself to both assist and support Pacific communities to grow and flourish, and promote Pacific peoples’ contributions to improved social and economic wellbeing for all New Zealanders.


“Our vision is for our young people and Pacific children born in New Zealand to be successful. Our role is to lead and assist Pacific communities and individuals to promote their contributions to social and economic wellbeing.”


While it seems “conceptually obvious” to provide continuous help to Pacific families and communities, the needs of Pacific people in New Zealand have changed.


“We are the Ministry that is able to guide and advise other agencies on how to cater for our Pacific population,” says Laulu.


“We have a renewed focus on our work approach over the next three years.”


Laulu acknowledges that the story of Pacific population has developed from one of migration into a new story of youth and Pacific culture emerging within New Zealand.


Today, over 60 percent of Pacific people are born in New Zealand.


“Ensuring our Pacific people have a firm sense of belonging and purpose in New Zealand lies at the heart of our decisions in the Ministry,” says Laulu.


“There are already services in place for our Pacific families and communities. Our work is to be able to advise our Pacific communities of these services.”


“Education, Health, Housing and Immigration are very important,” he says. “What we need to do is to advocate more on policy through the eyes of our communities and address what needs to change for the betterment of them.”


While the Ministry already serves a broad spectrum of its Pacific community, Laulu also hopes to expand the organisation’s capabilities and services to celebrate more Pacific Island successes in New Zealand.


Laulu says the new position feels like a “natural progression” from his previous job.


“The Pacific Cooperation Foundation was a very good transition into this space as it builds on my desire to work with an organisation that at its heart, focuses on Pacific empowerment,” he adds.


“As a smaller Ministry, we are committed to delivering on the key priority areas of Increasing Income and Wealth, Building Pacific Leadership and Strengthening Pacific Language, Culture and Identity.


“We have limited resources. The Ministry focuses our resources and interventions strategically in areas that we know will make the greatest difference.


“We will use our extensive networks and partnership approaches, working through other agencies to ensure their policies are well targeted to our Pacific communities.”


In doing this, Laulu will spend his three-year tenure helping to build the Ministry’s profile and key priority areas.


“We have maintained our focus on these three key priority areas, to highlight Pacific success in a way that is unique to the Ministry. We will continue to strengthen our relationships, both in the community and government. This allows us to connect the knowledge and expertise that lies in each area, providing a platform to improve outcomes for both Pacific people and New Zealand as a whole.”


The Ministry for Pacific Peoples employs about 45 staff and has three regional offices based in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.


Some of the Ministry’s functions are providing Pacific policy advice to Ministers and partner government agencies, and supporting the development of effective strategies and programmes targeting Pacific communities.


The Ministry also works with key partners co-designing and delivering innovative programmes to Pacific communities, improving outcomes and identifying valuable policy and implementation insights. It partners with a wide range of organisations across the state sector, businesses and Pacific communities to develop and promote future Pacific leaders and overall Pacific success.


“For me, this is a remarkable opportunity to lead one of the country’s hubs for Pacific communities,” says Laulu.


“The Ministry has staff all across the country who spend every day connecting with community leaders, policymakers, key partners and, of course, Pacific people who want to be successful and live comfortably in New Zealand. That is the Ministry’s vision and our mission is effecting positive change for Pacific people. I could not be more excited about this work.


“In many ways, working for the Ministry is a blessing for me, but also a huge challenge,” he says.


“I vividly remember, as a child, watching my parents working their fingers to the bone so I could have a better life. Now I feel blessed to be in the position of creating opportunities for a new generation.”



About the Ministry of Pacific Peoples


In working towards the vision of 'Successful Pacific Peoples' MPP aims to generate opportunities for Pacific peoples in New Zealand to prosper, by delivering robust policy and interventions that receive widespread support from stakeholders and the confidence of the government. Remember to use our hashtag #pacificstars when you’re sharing Pacific success on social media.