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Pasifika community hit hardest by recession - report

Published: 5:10AM Monday May 20, 2013 Source: ONE News

A report into issues facing Pasifika people in New Zealand has found the average weekly wage for people in the community has risen by just $2 in the past five years.

That's compared to an increase of $54 for non-Pacific people in New Zealand.

The findings are included in the Salvation Army's first State of the Nation report into the Pasifika people in New Zealand.

The recession has made life harder for Pasifika people, the report finds, and the community has come off worse than other New Zealanders.

Along with the smaller rise in average wages the report says over the past three years the unemployment rate for Pacific people has consistently run two to three times above unemployment for the general population.

It also says there is evidence that a segment of unemployed Pacific people do not receive a benefit and are likely to be relying on family for support, compounding poverty in these families.

Co-author Ronji Tanielu says the report shows that while Pacific communities continue to face social, health, education, and economic problems that became pronounced in the 1970s, and in many cases have worsened, the Pacific community is tenaciously making progress in some areas.

"With Pacific people now an intrinsic part of New Zealand society, it is crucial that policy makers include Pasifika people in their plans and decisions," Tanielu said.

"The social progress of Pasifika people is not just a responsibility of Pasifika themselves, but for all New Zealanders, if we are to honour our unwritten social contract where all Kiwis should be concerned about the safety, prosperity and social condition of one another."

The Salvation Army is calling on the Government to ease the burden on families by putting into action recommendations from the Children's Commissioner's Expert Advisory Group, and introducing free breakfast and lunch schemes in low decile schools.

Tanielu said this would go some way to ease poverty and give these children a better chance of fully participating in education and in the job market as adults.