By – Alok
‘Indians contribution is very positive and constructive’, SAM
Our minister of Ethnic communities Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga is a real people’s person, very humble, easily approvable and very clear in his mind about his roles and responsibilities. Migrant himself and being a highly qualified professional he distinctly knows what he intends to achieve on behalf of his community to make every New Zealanders life better on day to day basis.
Indianz X-PRESS took the opportunity to speak with the Minister on various facets of his profile and personality. Here are the excerpts:
Q- New Zealand is a country of immigrants and so many ethnicities, how important is your ministry of ethnic communities ?
Ans- Its important that we reflect the citizens in NZ, which has many ethnic communities. Our ministry plays an important role in helping these communities thrive and succeed in NZ.
Q- What are your main roles and responsibilities as a ethnic minister?
Ans- As minister of ethnic communities its about representing them and their view in cabinet and parliament and put them into decision making process. Specially the small communities which sometimes needs a lift and to be heard as part of our democratic set-up.
Q- You seems to be an role model for your Samoa community, with such high qualifications and professional credentials so tell us about your background?
Ans- I am a migrant too, I came as a child from Samoa with my parents in 1974, we grew up in Mangere in Auckalnd. We came with high hopes of good education and lifestyle. My parents were extremely hard working people. They have always told me the values of hard work. I was blessed to attend the Auckland Grammar School and then University of Auckland where I studied commerce and law and doing Masters in economics as well. And then I went to do MBA from the University of Cambridge in UK. I want to use that education and background to demonstrate that with hard work, dedication and commitment you can aspire to be whatever you want to be in this country. This is a land of opportunities.
Q- What made you from a successful financial consultant to be a politician and people’s representative?
Ans- It’s a good question, after finishing studies I became a solicitor, corporate lawyer doing litigation. I always had my first love for finances and economics. Enjoyed working in investment banking in Australia and United Kingdom. When I came back from overseas I wanted to give back to my community and also to my country being blessed having migrated here. Which also allowed me to go into politics and use some of those skills to make New Zealand a better place.
Q- Prime Minister has given you such vital portfolios over the period, what makes a good politician and a leader?
Ans- Oh, I do not going to talk about or boost myself as a good politician. You know I think what makes or the way I look at it is, when I wake up every morning I tell myself, what am I going to do today to improve the well-being of all New Zealanders. Our role as politicians to work for the betterment of our countrymen, to focus on what benefits our communities.
Q- There is a huge influx of Indian community in New Zealand. What is yours and your governments perception about Indians coming to New Zealand ?
Ans- I have had a very strong links with the Indian community. Very similar to my own background I think they focus very much on their family. Indians are very hard working, very entrepreneurial, generally peace loving people. Indians play a very big role in New Zealand society. So to say, my accountant, my doctor various people that I have close relations are all Indians. They contribute in a very positive and in a constructive way.
Q- You seems to be very humble and approachable person, how difficult it is to be like one in such pressured public life?
Ans- It’s a really good question, look it really comes down to the expectations the New Zealanders across all ethnic groups have from their politicians. We are expected to answer questions weather you are at a function or having an early morning breakfast somewhere or even for that matter if you are walking down the street. By and large I am ok with that. I understand the public nature and our roles. I understand the expectations set by our people. I think to be connected to people you represent whether it’s your local level or the country I think New Zealanders like that. I don’t think they want their politician to be distant, have body guards. Where you would not have a conversation with them at all. I think that’s one of the unique features of New Zealand political system. Despite recent events around security of ministers, I think its something we should try and maintain as long as we can.
Q- What are your goals and aspirations as a public representative?
Ans- I think our everyday goal is to help New Zealanders get good quality services. I have goals to advance some reforms that I am working on in various areas of my portfolio.
Q- Message for the community?
Ans- Message for the community is to say, well done , the hard work that’s been done out there. The Indian community is the one that should be proud of their successes and achievements not just here in New Zealand whether its in India or in Fiji and all round the world. Its also being strong and keeping your traditions, history and the heritage you have as Indian people. And also embracing what it means a New Zealander, the great nation we all are part off. I think it’s a real blessing to live in New Zealand. I think Indians forms a big part of the way New Zealand is going forward in the future.