15 Mar 2009

Key, Goff work huge crowds at Pasifika

2:01 pm on 15 March 2009

At the Pasifika Festival in Auckland on Saturday, Prime Minister John Key repeatedly told the crowd - estimated by organisers at 180,000 - that the National-led government is working hard to help people hold onto their jobs.

Mr Key spent an hour and a half visiting a range of exhibits and was often waylaid, especially by young people seeking to have their photograph taken with him.

Radio New Zealand's Pacific issues correspondent Richard Pamatatau says the Prime Minister pushed education as the key to success, especially in his talks with young people after a having his photo taken.

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Georgina Te Heu Heu says the Pasifika Festival is crucial to developing confidence in a section of the community with growing importance.

Labour leader Phil Goff, who also visited Pasifika, says that while the Pacific Island population has problems, it is on the rise.

Given the turnout at the festival, he said, more government support is justified for the community.

Opening delayed

The official opening of the festival was postponed by the Auckland mayor until Mr Key arrived around midday.

Organisers told Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni that the mayor, John Banks, wanted to wait for Mr Key, saying there were not enough people for the ceremony.