17 Jun 2002

New Zealand Pacific Ministry head says education is the key to economic improvement

7:06 pm on 17 June 2002

The chief executive of New Zealand's Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs says education is the only solution, after a report revealed that Pacific Islanders in New Zealand are still struggling to recover from the recession of the early 1990s.

'Pacific Progress', which is based on findings from last year's census, shows that Pacific Islanders have clawed back only half the income drop they suffered between 1986 and 1991.

Fuimaono Les McCarthy says that although the first wave of Pacific migrants in the 1950s and 60s instilled a strong education ethos in their children, that ethos has since been eroded by hard times.

Since 1991, Pacific participation in pre-schools has risen seven per cent to 33 per cent, and there are almost four times as many Pacific Islanders in tertiary education - but in both cases that's only half the national rate.

Mr McCarthy says the ministry is now also increasing its emphasis on Pacific business development.