Aupito the new Minister for Courts
New Zealand government minister with Samoan heritage, Aupito William Sio, says it is a privilege to continue to work with the Jacinda Ardern government as a minister.
Aupito is the Minister for Pacific Peoples as well as the Associate Minister for Justice and Courts.
In an email response to the Samoa Observer, he said it was a privilege to be asked by Prime Minister Ardern to join her government.
"Yes, it’s a huge privilege to be asked by the Prime Minister to join her government as a Minister,” he said in an email reply.
“And I am also aware of the expectations from our Pacific peoples of Aotearoa and the burden of responsibility that comes from being afforded the privilege to lead both the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and New Zealand’s Courts and the expectations from the New Zealand public.”
The reappointed Minister told this newspaper that he is excited to be reappointed as it will enable him to continue his work.
"I am excited to continue as the Minister for Pacific Peoples and to continue the work I started in the last three years, and now to focus on leading work in my new portfolio as the Minister for Courts."
His workload will now double given that he is Minister for Pacifc Peoples, Minister for Courts, the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Associate Minister of Education (Pacific), Associate Minister of Justice and the Associate Minister of Health (Pacific).
Also as the Minister for Pacific Peoples, his primary focus will be leading the Government's Pacific Wellbeing approach across key areas.
"I will be looking to consolidate focus, energy and resources and work collaboratively with my ministerial colleagues to find ways to lift Pacific wellbeing across the board," he added.
"In the last three years I was able to lay good strong foundations with the Pacific Aotearoa Lalanga Fou goals and a new vision."
Aupito said that he wants the Pacific people of Aotearoa to focus on being confident, thriving, resilient and prosperous Pacific peoples.
"We have documented this new vision with four key goals that our Pacific peoples told me will help them become confident, thriving, resilient and prosperous," he added.
In 2018, he released with the Minister of Finance the New Zealand Pacific Economy report which outlined Pacific peoples of New Zealand contributing $NZ8 billion to New Zealand's GDP.
"This is a good fantastic benchmark that we can build on. We contribute $8 Billion despite the inequalities and barriers we face in employment, education, income, health etc," he said at that time.
"As Minister for Pacific Peoples I secured significant investments by the Government of $135 million in Budget 2019, and then $195 million in Budget 2020 with specific focus and targeting Pacific outcomes."
Aupito went on to say that he will be working hard in the next three years to make sure that the Pacific Wellbeing is lifted using those funding and working collaboratively across all-of-Government with his ministerial colleagues.
"I will also be looking to utilize the talents of the four new Pacific MPs that are joining Labour’s Pacific Caucus to help contribute to our collective efforts to lift Pacific Wellbeing across education, health, employment, incomes, business etc," he added.
As the new Minister for Courts, Aupito said that he will be looking to implement the Labour Party manifesto commitments to roll out the Alcohol and Other Drugs Courts including Hamilton and Hawkes Bay.