MPP Chief Executive Pauline A. Winter gives thanks

In her last contribution to Spasifik Magazine in her capacity as Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, PAULINE A. WINTER (QSO) wishes to express thanks to all those who have supported her last five years.


When I took up the position at the Ministry it was very much a calling.


A calling to contribute to the wellbeing of Pacific people and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.


This was not a sole objective – I also wanted to see the impact a small population Ministry in the public system could make.


In previous roles, I had seen first-hand the potential of Pacific people in sport, music, arts and business.


However, I knew that by having a deeper understanding of the machinery and function of government and its agencies it would enhance my ability to bring a different perspective to the Ministry.


I very much wanted to add to the work of my predecessors who each played an important role in leading and developing the Ministry. For me, leading the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, as it was then, was an opportunity to demystify the role of the Ministry and to influence the policy thinking of government departments and agencies.


The public sector works to deliver better public services designed around what New Zealand communities need. The Ministry has an important role in achieving this through helping other agencies to better engage with Pacific communities and understand what they need from public services and how they can be more effective.


As part of the public service system, the Ministry must have sound relationships across all sectors of government, not only with the Pacific units residing in those agencies, but their policy and delivery units as well. We have worked hard to ensure these relationships are in good shape, and therefore able to influence their work.


You would have read about the many successes we have had in this regard through our publications.


The generosity of other agencies to support the Ministry has been significant whether it be from secondment of senior staff – to providing specialists to assist in key projects and work. A small Ministry must be a clever one and we strive to be the smartest little agency.



Today, New Zealand is all the more vibrant and interesting to live in and visit as a result of our increasing unique cultural mix, some of it Pacific in origin.


However, we must all take the opportunities we can to build a community wide commitment to building cross-cultural understanding in order for real diversity to flourish. Part of building community wide commitment is to have more Pacific public servants to help influence the thinking of decision-makers.


There has always been a challenge to bring more Pacific people into the public service.


The majority of Pacific public servants are in operational roles outside of Wellington, mainly in Auckland. There is scope for people to take up policy positions in Wellington and there are several intern programmes in existence. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise, particularly, have provided strong leadership in this respect.


I have enjoyed promoting the public service as a great career option to both young, and not so young, people and will continue to do so in the future.


Pacific people and tangata whenua have always enjoyed a special relationship and the Ministry demonstrated this with the translation of its name into te reo.


It was the obvious next step for the Ministry to ensure it embraced this – The Ministry for Pacific Peoples - Te Mānatu mo Nga Iwi o Te Moana-A-Kiwa. The leadership of Ngāti Whātua (Orakei & Kaipara) and Waikato-Tainui provided us with information of early relationships with Pacific people and the significance of the ongoing relationships.


Here is one part of what we were told:


“When the Pacific people came, they did have relationships with their own whanau, or they had the names of those who had arrived earlier.


The Moetea Whānau originally came from the Cook Islands, but overtime they become connected with Ngāti Whātua. George Pouesi, who arrived from Samoa around the start of World War II, was a second example of Pacific people who came to Orakei. The Tumahai people from Tahiti and the Tama-

Ariki whānau from the Cook Islands are other examples. The local response was for arranged marriages with people from the pā located on the Papakāinga at Okahu Bay.


Our nannies would arrange these marriages – and there was a sound reason for this: it would see diversity come into the whānau, and this would strengthen the people…… 


Today, Ngāti Whātua retains relationships with these same families….”

There are a collection of stories that have been gifted to us which articulate the special relationship and whakapapa we share. I pay tribute to Dr Pauline Kingi who led this work for us as well as the leadership of Ngāti Whātua Orakei and Kaipara and Tainui. It is of interest that nearly 23,000 people of Pacific origin whakapapa to an iwi. The New Zealand Pacific population is changing – and changing rapidly.


The name change and new logo deliberately reflects the change in population.



Pacific people are no longer new migrants, they are here to stay. There are now several generations born here. Our focus therefore has changed from one of migration to the generations of New Zealand-born which now sits at 62.3%. The median age of the Pacific population is 22.1 years compared with 38 years for the total NZ population.


The Ministry’s new logo was the work of two young women students from the Manukau Institute of Technology students, Nofoagaoalii Me and Daisy Tavilone and their Faculty of Creative Arts tutor Steve Lovett, who undertook the challenge to shape our new look.


We were pleased to be able to give these students a real-world experience aligned to their studies. You will note in the logo that ‘Pacific Peoples’ stands out strongly and the ‘Ministry’ is less visible. This is deliberate as Pacific Peoples are our focus, not ourselves.


This is the heart of how the Ministry works – people and communities at the centre of our thinking and actions.


With our focus on youth we have seen increasing numbers of applications for the annual Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards and the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematic Scholarships programme ‘Toloa’.


Providing opportunities for young Pacific people to participate in different forums or career choices are part of making sure the sacrifices and investment families continue to make in education pays off. We will see the next generation of leaders in a wider range of fields come through to make their mark in our society. Exciting!



I am proud of our Pacific Employment Support Services programme that has been running since 2010 assisting young people into training and work. There are so many great stories from employers and young people alike about the opportunity to take up jobs and begin their careers.


This initiative has been one that we have been able to quantify economic results. Over a four year period the programme saw 1,424 Pacific young people participate in the programme; 1,160 successfully placed into employment or training; 450 placements made into training placements. That means 72% of clients were successfully placed into employment for 6 months or more; 82% of the pilot’s 1,424 original participants were placed into employment or training.


This programme has seen a $4.6M investment in young people returning savings to the economy of $21M.


I acknowledge the team at the Ministry that worked hard to get this specifically tailored programme off the ground and the dedication of the providers running this programme and the willing employers.


I applaud the commitment of those that contribute each and every day to ensuring success. I congratulate those young people and their families who have chosen to participate in the Pacific Employment Support Services programme.


The Ministry’s growing confidence to do things differently comes from the business model we put in place in 2014 which places the Pacific community (customer) at the very heart of what we do. Surrounding this, we have changed the way we work by introducing technology that allows us to work flexibly whether that be in the office, community halls or cafés. We are able to go where people and communities are to gather information.


This technology allows gathering intel on the spot and sending it through our Kupenga system which allows our analysts and policy people to utilise it immediately. They put it into a form that determines the ‘what’ factor and how best to utilise this information, which ranges from influencing other government agencies to do things differently, or negotiating changes to policies that makes for easier access to services.


The Ministry, like any organisation, is always a work in progress and we are continually looking at ways to improve performance. We have to always balance expectations against the resources available to do our job well.


This is an ongoing challenge, not just for our Ministry. Every day we get requests that are beyond our means to respond to – but we always do our best to find ways to assist.



I have been grateful for the feedback and helpful suggestions many of you have provided over the past few years. Be assured the organisation has an embedded culture of continuing to look at ways to improve what we do, when we do it and how we do it. I do not expect this to change with my departure as it is how a smart little agency must work.


New Zealanders want to know that agencies such as ourselves are making good decisions and getting results. This small Ministry and its dedicated team get out of bed each and every morning intent on doing exactly this. I am proud of them, the work they do and the results they get for all New Zealanders.


The next few weeks for me will be focused on ensuring a safe handover of the Vaka to the incoming Chief Executive and preparing to return to Tāmaki Makaurau.


Ia manuia

Pauline A. Winter