The Honourable Ralph Regenvanu, Vanuatu Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, provided some strong food for thought at a free AUT Pacific public lecture held at AUT’s South Campus in Manukau recently.
As keynote speaker at the AUT Pacific event, Hon. Regenvanu spoke to the theme of pushing the cultural agenda in Vanuatu, where he traced his personal journey from being a cultural advocate working in the cultural heritage sector at national, regional and international levels, to entering national politics in Vanuatu to try and effect the desired policy changes from within.
When it comes to setting a successful cultural agenda and preserving a traditional economy, Hon. Regenvanu asked the audience to consider some thought-provoking advice: “Recognise what you have that’s good and works, make sure you take on the good stuff from other developments and cultures. Don’t take things that erode what you enjoy, stand back and value what you have. There is an opportunity to have the best of both worlds.”
The event brought together more than 60 people from all over New Zealand – local community groups, representatives from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Consul Generals of Vanuatu and Samoa, NGOS, and representatives from a number of New Zealand Universities and tertiary institutes. Some members of New Zealand’s Ni-Vanuatu community also turned up to hear a voice from home.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to be able to share my knowledge of Vanuatu’s cultural agenda and the various factors at play in shaping Vanuatu’s political, economic, social and cultural landscape, with New Zealand, with AUT University, the community, and in particular the Pacific people who live here” says Hon. Regenvanu.
AUT University’s inaugural Professor of Pacific Studies, Tagaloatele Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop says Hon. Regenvanu’s presentation was invaluable to many of AUT’s post-graduate researchers.
“Him being here, and inspiring so many with his thought provoking successes and experience is a strong, tangible demonstration of our commitment to empowering Pacific people through education and research,” says Professor Fairbairn-Dunlop.