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Reflecting the values of Pacific People in MSD's policies and services would better serve the needs of Pacific People. "Pacific communities want approaches tailored to Pacific values and aspirations – one that recognises communities themselves can drive their own innovative solutions" (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, 2018). The four values that need to be acknowledged are family, collectivism and communitarianism, reciprocity and respect (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, 2017: 12).

  • Family: Pacific peoples live in extended families. The family is the centre of the community and way of life. Every person belongs to a family, aiga and kainga, and every family belongs to a person. This brings identity and belonging. Ancestry and a sense of place involve a kinship with what and who has gone before. [There is a need for a people-centred, family-centred system. There is a need to develop housing solutions that work for how Pacific People live.]
  • Collectivism and communitarianism: Most Pacific peoples are communal people. Their way of viewing the world and doing things is mostly driven by what is commonly perceived as acceptable to the community. This includes teamwork, consultation and co-operation, with all members striving to work together to achieve common goals through a consensual approach.
  • Reciprocity: Acknowledging the value of relationships and obligations of care between individuals and groups interacting for a shared purpose. Mutual help and interdependence are viewed as more effective than individualism.
  • Respect: Pacific peoples learn from an early age to show respect when relating to one another. This is an expected behaviour, including respect towards elders, parents, women, children and people in positions of authority. Respect includes keeping face, acknowledging someone’s status and observing proper etiquette.

MSD needs to accelerate its commitment to cultural responsiveness to Pacific People. This includes an awareness of cultural obligations experienced by Pacific People around contribution for weddings, funerals and other critical cultural events. Additional support in the welfare system is also needed to provide appropriate resources to achieve equitable outcomes for Pacific People. The Ministry also needs to appreciate that, in interacting with MSD, individual Pacific People may feel a strong sense of shame for the reasons listed earlier in chapter 2.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Pacific People, and providers of supports and services (including MSD) need to be aware of diversity amongst Pacific People. Significant diversity in the Pacific community will impact on service delivery. Pacific People are multilingual, multi-generational, represent many ethnic-specific interests, and hold various skills. The Pacific population is relatively youthful, with a mix of island-born and New Zealand-born members living within a dynamic and changing cultural landscape. Cultural obligations, cultural identity and ties to the Pacific Islands remain essential aspects of Pacific life. However, there are significant differences between different ethnic groups and within these groups. For example, young people’s responses to their culture vary enormously.

Government can build on the strengths in Pacific communities (Integrity Professionals, 2018).

  • Pacific People make a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy. More could be done to enhance this contribution by improving Pacific People’s participation in the labour market. In this respect, the Pacific youth population is a strength that needs to be supported and nurtured.
  • Pacific People make a significant contribution through volunteering in the community, which needs to be valued.
  • Churches are an important part of many Pacific families’ lives, [30] and an opportunity exists for government and other agencies to establish meaningful partnerships with churches to help deliver programmes and initiatives to Pacific communities (Ministry for Pacific Peoples, 2018).


30 More than 80% of Pacific People identify as belonging to a religion. Although many young Pacific People do not have such strong ties to churches.

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