Representing Pacific voices in Resource Management Practice

Representing Pacific voices in Resource Management Practice Representing Pacific voices in Resource Management Practice Representing Pacific voices in Resource Management Practice

The Aotearoa Pacific Practitioners Group brings together planning and environmental practitioners with a Pacific heritage or association. Sarah Heritage and Melita Raravula are both members of the group.

It is projected that by 2026 Pacific Peoples will account for 10% of New Zealand’s population, an increase of 2.6% from 2013.

Pacific People have origins in and associations with Polynesian, Micronesian or Melanesian nations. The eight main Pacific ethnic groups in New Zealand originate from Samoa, Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Fiji, Tokelau, Tuvalu and Kiribati.

“Two-thirds of the Pacific population live within the Auckland Region and there is an increasing need to understand the unique Pacific cultural capital of who we are, where we come from, how we think and work, the knowledge we bring, our values and our strengths, in order to create effective policy development for Pacific Peoples” (Ministry of Pacific Peoples, 2018).

To contribute to this understanding of Pacific People in New Zealand, the Aotearoa Pacific Practitioners Group (APPG) was established in 2017 as a special interest group within the New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) to provide a representative voice for Pacific resource management professionals in Aotearoa. Melita Raravula, a planner in our Tauranga office; and Sarah Heritage, a planner in our Auckland office; are both members of the group.

“The APPG seeks to bring the Pacific resource management professionals of Aotearoa together, as a voice reflecting Pacific values of sustainable people and places in the wider Pacific region,” says Sarah.

Priorities of the group include:

  • Encouraging and supporting knowledge-sharing through professional forums,
  • Increasing the presence and voice of Pacific practitioners in resource management, and
  • Connecting professional resource management networks of the Pacific region to create opportunities for collaboration and sustainable environments and communities.

The APPG are advocating for these Pacific values, and seeking to determine key planning principles which are reflective of Pacific values and will contribute to better planning outcomes for Pacific communities. In this way, the APPG seeks to provide Pacific planning principles for Pacific people, by Pacific people. 

Melita explains, “Given the increasing population and influence that Pacific communities are having within New Zealand, there is a fundamental need to collate our understandings and knowledge of Pacific values and the Pacific way.” 

“But in turn, these understandings and knowledge need to be shaped into planning principles that are process- and outcome-based,” Sarah adds.

A key aspect of developing Pacific planning principles is ensuring that Pacific Peoples’ information and evidence is captured and accepted as knowledge which can inform such principles.

In December 2018, a workshop was held to spearhead the development of the Pacific planning principles and focused on exploring the values that reflect the ‘Pacific Way’ and identifying what these mean, what they look like in terms of planning principles, and what they look like on the ground.

These values and their transformation into Pacific planning principles is an ongoing process and will continue as Pacific communities transform over time.

To elicit further interest and support of the Pacific planning principles, the APPG presented at the NZPI Conference in April 2019. The presentation focused on who the APPG are, the values upon which the group is based, and the progress made in developing the principles.

Over the coming year, the APPG is continuing to develop the Pacific planning principles into a document that can help professionals within the planning sphere to identify key issues and values for Pacific communities. This will contribute to the provision of spaces and places that reflect the interests of the Pacific people who engage with them.

For further information please contact Sarah Heritage or Melita Raravula

13 June 2019