Pacific panel's uncertain fate

There are no guarantees that Auckland Council's Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel will still be around next year.

The council consults the Pacific and Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panels on cultural issues and gives minority communities a voice in local government.

The panels were established as a requirement of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010. They can be disestablished next year if the mayor and councillors agree.

Mayor Len Brown says he's committed to seeing the community has a voice and the next step to ensure its survival is to secure a statutory mandate.

A group of leaders from various communities and Pacific nations formed Advance Pasifika and marched from Albert Park to the city to bring into focus issues which impact its people (East & Bays Courier, June 6).

Parnell resident and Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel chairman Reverend Uesifili Unasa says a major concern for Pacific communities is the lack of strong leadership and a feeling they are ignored.

"The march was a strong push that there be a Pacific service after the expiry of the current advisory panel," he says.

"It's up to the mayor and whichever council is voted in as to whether the panel will carry on.

"The march was so critical. We want our voice heard and we will not put up with there not being a voice," Mr Unasa says.

"Auckland city is the largest Pacific city in the world. The changes put forward in the Local Government Amendment Act look to limit the work of local councils in some areas so they can be taken care of by government.

"If Auckland's Pacific community has to go to Wellington to deal with Auckland issues no one is going to listen to the concerns specific to us.

"If the Pacific community has a council that has the resource base, then the council would be an important part of the solution to the issues that are detrimental to the reality of our Pacific community," he says.

East And Bays Courier