Supporting Change

Speaking at a Pasefika Proud Community Leaders Fono in 2016, Hon. Bill English endorsed the Pasefika Proud tag line of ‘Our Families, Our People, Our Responsibility’. He also emphasised that addressing issues like family violence depends upon the people and their communities.

Hon. Bill English

Hon. Bill English

“We’re trying to turn the system upside down, where what happens is determined by you and your communities,” he said.

“We have to change what we do, so we can support that.”

An important part of what the government is doing is involving youth.

“It’s about our young people, because when we do a social investment analysis, it tells us that we need to make sure every young person is on track, and I mean one-by-one. Because if things go wrong, they can go wrong for 30-40 years. They can sit on a cycle that’s hard to get out of.”

Prime Minister English added that as the Government needs the community’s help to design the system, in a way that is beneficial for them, they’ll need it even more to maintain it.

“What happens is, to a large extent, determined by what people in government think should happen,” he stated.

“And they’re the people with the steady jobs, the suits and the good pay.”

He advised that Pacific people should continue to tell him and the rest of government exactly what they need from them.

“Understand that what you say, people like me will take seriously. What you tell us about what you need will be heard and listened to.”

He emphasised that what the community does is far more important than what government does.

“There’s no better way of measuring success than what happens in your communities and to your children.”

He admitted that too often government has treated communities like they’re not capable - that they should be grateful for what government is doing.

“Well, you shouldn’t be grateful for what government does, because that’s Government’s job,” he said.

“The reason why people pay tax is so that we can serve and support you when you need it, not when you don’t. And that’s the way it should work, so don’t be grateful, be demanding.”

Government, he believes, needs to think of Pacific people the same way that a good shop thinks about its customers.

“What is it they’re after? What’s going to help them feel better? Achieve more, be proud. Not think, ‘why don’t they turn up to our service’, even though it was never really designed for them anyway’. Or, ‘When are we going to start doing something valid?’ he said.

“That’s why what you do is going to matter more than what we do. We all know we have to do it, because if it’s not actually working for you and your families, or for Porirua East for example, then it’s not working.”