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Insulated communities of ‘haves’, ‘have-nots’

By David Tauranga APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Dec. 29, 2009) – New Zealand-born Samoan researcher Efeso Collins believes race relations are fine as long as people stick to their own.

His view is different to that of Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley - and certainly not as upbeat.

Mr. Collins believes Auckland’s different communities are good at living in their own zones but useless at understanding each other.

No one’s learning to live together and very few people, if any, are trying to bridge the cultural gaps, he says.

"We often have the wealthy at one end, predominantly Pakeha and Asian, and then the poor black at the other end. Everyone just goes about their own thing.

"Look at the Pasifika Festival. It’s really other people looking at the cosmetic stuff of Pacific culture, not understanding our history, our languages and our contributions."

Mr. Collins believes most of Auckland’s Pacific community are "living in survival mode" and as a result they’re unable to be more than just the region’s underclass.

Pacific people are still underachieving at school, have the lowest participation in tertiary education and the highest unemployment rate, he says.

"When your family is utterly committed to making sure there’s enough food on the table and a roof overhead then that is your sole focus. If we don’t raise levels of educational achievement for young Pacific people we’re going to be the underclass for a long time."

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