Challenges and opportunities for Pasifika businesses in the COVID-19 era

The challenges and opportunities for Pasifika businesses and the role governmentand the university can play in supporting the development of the Pasifika business community were discussed at a recent Wellington School of Business and Government Dean’s Series event.

Panelists for the Pasifika Dean's Series

The Dean Series talk saw invited panellists— John Fiso ONZM, Chairman of Fiso Investment Group, Laulu Mac Leauanae, Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples, Arti Chand, Principal of Arti Chand Tax Law, Paul Retimanu, Chairman of the Pasifika Business Network, and Raphael Hilbron, Managing Partner of SenateSHJ New Zealand—share their insights.

Uncertainty around COVID-19, travel restrictions, and issues with funding and capital were some of the challenges identified by the panel as impacting Pasifika businesses, but they also identified a swathe of opportunities that exist—the adaptability of Pasifika people, Pasifika university graduates supporting and working with their families in the Pacific, the similar core values between Māori and Pasifika providing an opportunity for them to work more closely together, and an increasing awareness of the issues that exist by government.

Acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Wellington School of Business and Government Professor Jane Bryson chaired the discussion. In her welcome, Professor Bryson said it was a privilege to host the discussion and talked about the importance of supporting Pasifika economic development.

“Supporting Pasifika economic development is an important focus area for the Wellington School of Business and Government,” said Professor Bryson. “We’re privileged to have Dr Alan Bollard, in his role as the inaugural Chair for Pacific Region Business, taking a lead on supporting research and teaching in this area. I look forward to seeing an increase over the coming years in research from our academics that supports Pasifika economic development.

“Attracting and supporting Pasifika students, at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, is also crucial. I’m thankful for the excellent work of the Pasifika Student Success Team for all that they do to ensure Pasifika students have a positive university experience”

Professor Bryson also acknowledged Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban and Paul Retimanu for the role they played in organising the event.

“Dame Winnie Laban was due to attend today’s event but was unfortunately called away for a commitment in Auckland. She asked me to send her apologies. Winnie was very much looking forward to this event and played a key role in bringing the event together.

“I’d also like to acknowledge the support of Paul Retimanu, Chairman of the Pasifika Business Network in Wellington who also played a role in supporting this event, both sharing the event details through the business network and ensuring we had a diverse panel.”