Magazine article New Zealand Management

Pacifica Future: The Billion Dollar Question

Magazine article New Zealand Management

Pacifica Future: The Billion Dollar Question

Article excerpt

Scattered across the broad blue sweep of the Pacific Ocean is a diverse, culturally rich but geographically isolated series of island nations whose future is inextricably entwined with that of New Zealand.

There has long been a flow of people and of goods east and west over this vast expanse of water that both defines and segregates small nation states from Tonga to Tokelau and from The Solomons to Samoa. But in a world grown smaller, the challenges they face seem to loom ever larger.

One of the issues is how the cultural strengths of these communities can be leveraged to contribute to their future prosperity. What needs to change- and how can government agencies and communities encourage better economic outcomes?

These were among questions addressed at the recent "Pacific Futures: Preparing Pacific Communities for the 21st Century Symposium" sponsored by the University of Auckland Business School and Brigham Young University Honolulu.

The principal purpose of this gathering was to look at bridging the gap between the past and the future in the Pacific. Speakers, who included a number of heads of state along with academics specialising in Pacific peoples' issues, explored how religious, social and cultural heritages might affect future economic outlook.

Specifically they looked at why strong Pacific family bonds can help in the economic transition and what are the cultural traits and behaviours that might encourage better outcomes.

In a world of globalisation and economic pluralism, these countries of the Pacific face significant challenges as traditional values and cultural mores come into conflict with the economic forces that are sweeping the world.

There is the risk that Pacific peoples may be left behind if some form of harmony and synchronisation between the past and the future does not take place within present and future generations.

New Zealand undoubtedly has a role to play. As speakers at the Symposium noted, this country has strong historic and economic links with the area--through trade as well as through extended family networks. These were explored in the context of future economic and political interests of the Pacific nations and the ongoing impact of New Zealand's participation in a new and more competitive business era.

The good news is that economic and business prospects for the 21st century are regarded in a positive light with plenty of opportunity to build on existing trade links. …

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