Whilst Pasefika people make up a relatively small proportion of the New Zealand population, Pasefika remain overrepresented in low socioeconomic brackets, made worse by their simultaneous underrepresentation in higher management positions.
Recent figures show that the median household net worth of the total New Zealand population is a healthy $289,000, however very little of this wealth is shared by Pasefika. In fact, the median net worth for Pasefika households is a mere $12,000. These inequalities bleed into the social fabric of Pasefika communities; 90-day trials, long hours, and low wages exacerbating the ability to effectively provide the social and financial support for our families and wellbeing.
Yet the policies that promise to reduce the barriers that obstruct Pasefika success often feel disconnected from the reality of navigating the workplace and wider New Zealand society as a Pasefika person. This disconnect is just one area that the PSA Pasefika Network has identified and hopes to address as part of the network’s overall, long-term vision for its Pasefika members.
Strengthening our network
The PSA Pasefika Network was established over a decade ago to help represent the specific needs and advancement of PSA members who self-identify as Pacific people. Despite the network having been in operation since 2004, it has seen limited activity until recent years. Last year, however; PSA convenors began re-connecting the PSA Pasefika Network with the Council of Trade Unions’ Komiti Pasifika, which oversees the representation of Pacific people across various unions, and attended the CTU Komiti’s biennial fono in September 2016.
In addition to reigniting its activities and engagement with the CTU Komiti, the PSA Pasefika Network has re-familiarised itself with the advocacy needs and objectives of its members.
Communicating our members’ concerns
Stella Teariki, PSA Pasefika convenor, says that whilst the long-term objective is to eradicate the social and economic disparities that disadvantage Pacific communities, the upcoming 2017 general elections offer an opportunity to keep Pasefika members engaged, informed and connected in the lead up to the elections. This focus on the elections for the coming year also allows the network to facilitate ways in which the concerns of its members can be communicated to policy-makers and representatives – particularly through the network’s involvement with the CTU Komiti.
The PSA Pasefika Network’s vision for the 2017 election year is a means of addressing the disconnect that is often felt by Pacific people when it comes to the development of social, economic and employment policy.
Being heard is a crucial tenet of union advocacy and there are various ways to achieve this. Being involved in policy development through consultation in an election year is just one of the many goals and objectives the PSA Pasefika Network hopes to explore in the future. The work of the network itself provides Pasefika union members with a broad means of collective advocacy that is specifically focused on the issues that impact Pasefika so disproportionately.